As the snow fell against a grey sky outside the long windows, I floated inside on the surface of a warm pool, and stared at the patterned ceiling wondering what insights a half a century of life had brought me. Perhaps there weren't any, and simply being able to float here without care as others swam around me was enough.
As the warm water caressed my skin, the snow continued to fall like a silent messenger. Each flake was another year, passing so quickly I could barely keep count. I stopped at eighteen and began to wonder whether life had become what I had envisioned it to be back then. The answer eluded me like the water and the snow flakes. All I could remember about that time was struggling with how to hold onto the pattern I had been raised with: the constant moving from one place to the next surrounded by the smell of suitcases and aircraft. This was no vision at all, rather it was a desperate desire to hold onto something, anything, that could offer a sense of belonging. How lucky I was to be a cosmopolitan, and how unlucky.
As each snow flake fell and the years passed by I made decisions that no one else could understand. Not even me. I broke with the promise of a secure corporate life and moved to a small isolated island in the cold, dark North with my new, young family. There were so many uncertainties, and yet it felt so right. The smell of the musty forest replaced the smell of suitcases. I resisted leaving the ground with all of my might, as though it was a life and death decision, and perhaps it was. For leaving the ground would have been to drag out those delicate roots that had begun to grow in the soil of that place, away from the growth-hampering effects of critical gazes.
During a decade the roots grew strong in the peace of this unusual place, so far from the elusive world I had once known. Slowly, a vision arose, of a life lived close to the earth and to loved ones, with time for reflection, the courage to put thought and feeling to the page, and respect for the work of the hand. This emergence was nothing I could have formulated quickly. It took the passing of years and perseverance. The search for roots sometimes took me to painful discoveries in later years, but pain can strengthen resolve and vision, if one can stand venturing deeper into it.
At 50 I see a world weary of the very thing I was raised with: a global outlook. I sympathize deeply with the desire to flee that alienating idea to a safe place of one's own, where things are familiar and roots are strong. Yet, today the vision of a life must be big enough to accommodate both. We will need to learn to feel comfortable with floating at the same time as with knowing where the snow lands.