When I first got home I was completely confused by clock time. I wanted to sleep, and eat, and stay awake at moments when I was supposed to be doing otherwise. My bed felt strangely unfamiliar too. Any sense of time and space was completely out of whack.
I was also confused by the inevitable question. So HOW was it, people would ask, and I wasn’t sure how to answer. But then I realised that everybody was more than happy if I just cut to the chase. A couple of glowing words, maybe a quick story or two, and that was all that was required. Everyone has their own stuff going on.
But over the past few days I’ve been asking myself a few other questions, ones that rely on different adverbs, apart from just the HOW. I couldn’t help thinking that if I’d travelled all that way, and used up all those air miles, and caught all those buses, then the least I could do was give some thought to WHAT I actually did and WHY on earth I did it.
And there’s one more adverb that’s been lurking behind the WHAT and the WHY. That’s the WHO. Who was it that left here about 70 days ago now? And who is it that has returned? Sure, I know that’s not a huge amount of time, especially when you consider the number of years I’ve lived on the planet. But over those weeks I met so many people who shared their stories while I listened in. Those stories live in me as memory now. So how can I be the same WHO?
You know that feeling you have, when you first wake up from a very vivid dream. You’re lying there all fuzzy and crusted over with sleep and you’re grabbing at the details as quickly as you can before they slip away for good. You’re awake enough to know that a BIG story has just unfolded. That much is clear. But then comes the harder task of remembering what you can, then working out what it might mean, so you’re better equipped with getting on with things, and knowing who you are, and what you’re supposed to be doing, before you decide to get up and start another day.