Something That Was Out of Reach
The nature of human longing and how an individual’s life is shaped by such dreams.
Text: The Nightingale by Kristie Hannah
If I have learned anything in this life of mine, it is this: above everything else, a human needs security. They long for this security through love, success, intelligence; anything that assures them that they will be ok.
Before, I have always found myself very secure. I knew that I was strong with every breath I took. I mean, it was in my DNA. My father was a paramedic in the war- he taught me everything I needed to know on how to take care of myself. If there was one thing my father taught me, it was that there is always a certainty. People will get hurt, there is no doubt about that. It is how they heal and prepare that determines their lives. There is always a medicine or cure available to hinder any weakness, but the patient must care for their wounds, have the medicine available, and protect their wounds. An individual that is unaware, doesn’t care for their future. An individual who gives up has already decided their fate. An individual can only go so far as they are prepared to go. That is why I dreamed so big. I grew up certain of having a big future, as I know he would be there if I got hurt.
After his death, however, everything became muddy. I lost my certainty, my safety net, my life line. I had no idea if I was going to be able to do anything myself. There was nowhere to go. Without him, I had lost my dreams, and at this point, they needed him more than they needed me.
I made it sound as if I thought of my father as some higher power who could control my destiny.
However, he could in a way though, as his security allowed me to long for dreams I once found inconceivable. I no longer wished upon the skies above but rather longed for the groundedness of my father next to me. It was scary, to look up at the sky, knowing that it goes on and on but not knowing what is there.
The past had something the future could not make certain.
Maybe that is why I found myself longing for it so often- looking down all the time. Looking down at my father’s pictures or even looking down at his grave. I made a photo album of my father to help heal me- specifically, this one photograph of my father and I. We had just been hiking for 3 hours and just past the trail there was this massive view, in which my father insisted that we take a picture together. Earlier that week I had cut out my father and I in the photograph, throwing out the background of the photo and keeping the cutout in a scrapbook which I had dedicated to him. Somehow, by a miracle of God, I thought, I was finally able to have my dad with me again.
This book of photos soon became my prized possession. I would skip class to come home and polish it as the thought of it being dirty disgusted me. I feigned sickness in order to sit in my room all day, going through pictures, writing letters to him. Weeks of longing turned to months, which then turned to years.
I look back on the person I was then, and I see how much that dream to be safe with my father determined the course of my entire life.
Years of longing for my father soon came to a stop as the living people in my life witnessed what seemed to be my downward spiral and immediately sought help against my will at the time. I had to undergo months of therapy and discussion before I was able to see the true state of my life: an unassembled disarray of scars and wounds that I kept picking at. I thought that by longing for my father, I was running to something that would help my life. Little did I know I was actually running from life itself, towards something that was no longer there. Little did I know that his groundedness that I longed for was actually chaining me to the ground. Little did I know that by wishing for my dad to heal me when he couldn’t, I was actually wounding myself.
I no longer dreamed of becoming a medic like he used to. I think I need to save the life I destroyed before the lives of others. I ended up throwing away the cut out photos of my dad and I, and somehow kept the scraps of surrounding material- the backgrounds, the views, the landscapes, the horizons. I look at this hole in the middle of these photos and no longer see something that is gone, but something that could be there- a new dream; a new longing for the future, not the past.
Now I am healing, Not quickly, perhaps, but not slowly, either, and I now feel compelled to look forward in my life.
If I have learned anything in this life of mine, it is this:
In order to heal a wound you must stop touching it.