And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
I’m sure these words by T.S. Eliot have been examined for meaning by scholars more learned than I, but I find such a simple truth in these luminous lines.
When we are young, we set off for distant shores to discover what exists in this vast world. We search the hills and valleys, we study other cultures and examine the great unknowns. As we travel, we leave our home and the well-trodden floors of our youth; sure there are better things beyond our door. We ignore the beloved glider on the porch, the weathered tire swing hanging from the ancient oak tree and the unruly patch of Black-eyed Susans blooming out back. We say our farewells to the people who have been with us since the day we were born, knowing they will always be right where we left them.
Without the going there would be no returning. Without the departure, there would be no homecoming. Without seeing other lands, our eyes would be incapable of seeing our home for the first time and having our hearts fill with joy upon seeing the beloved porch glider, ancient tire swing and blossoming wild flowers. Without meeting the peoples of the world we would be unable to feel the rush of warmth and deep love for the people who have been with us since the day we were born.
They were right where we left them - but now we see them for the very first time.