Author: A M Scott
There is a lesser told tale about a sage and his ‘padawan’ who journeyed together to a distant retreat, somewhere outside of Knysna, the one learning from the other as they went. They walked much, spoke little, and updated their social media feed often, like mindful sages and bloggers do.
A few days into their sojourn, the pair came to a rapidly flowing river, near the southern border of the Northern Cape. There, on the banks of the gushing stream, they saw a maiden sitting in a beautiful shweshwe dress. As she caught sight of them, she leapt up and ran towards them brimming with the type of excitement that befalls one who is in need of rescue and sees hope on the horizon.
“Please,” she begged of the learned sage, who was clearly the one in charge, “please, carry me across this river? I’m journeying to my loved one, and I don’t want to ruin this dress, or get my phone wet.”
The young apprentice was appalled at her audacious request and poised himself to retort and dismiss her desperate cry. To his amazement, before he could act, his mentor agreed to carry the woman. Steeled against the strong current, wading and pushing his way forward in the flowing waters, the leader carried her gallantly, until he put her safely on the other side and updated his Instagram story. As all rescued maidens do, she thanked him profusely, and promised to tag him in her next post.
The two men continued to walk in silence, for five more days. Not a word was spoken between them. At last, on the fifth day, the one clearly not in charge could no longer hold his tongue. “So,” he said, “why did you carry that woman across the river? She seriously crossed the line.”
With a wry smile, the sage looked at him and said: “You have learned much, but you are yet to deepen your wisdom, young man. That woman weighed heavily on my back for but five minutes. Then I was done and I enjoyed the rest of my travels. But she has been weighing on your mind for five days…and you have missed all the moments passed and the beauty around you.”
And like the travellers, so are we. It is better to carry a load and then put it down and forget about it. Things happen and everything that happens is eventually an event from the past that could be left there. We do not need to carry our mistakes, wounds and grudges with us. We can unburden ourselves and move forward, if we do so intentionally.
In the journey of a parent with a child who presents with challenges and needs that are special and perhaps unexpected, there are certainly moments in time when your reality presents as deeply painful. As a caregiver, you can but pick up the burden. Parents in a remedial school community definitely have had a difficult and even defining moment to manage on the way to such an enrolment. Perhaps it was at birth and a paediatrician needed to share his concerns with you. Perhaps it was a nursery school teacher who noticed a few delays that she brought to your attention, bravely. It may have been the feedback from an assessment, or more brutally, a rejection from an educational institution. At the time of being confronted, whenever and however it was, you dealt with the news delivered and met the challenge presenting itself. You were compelled to take an action, to carry your child for a strenuous but short lived while, to find a solution. Then, there was a choice to journey on unhindered, purposefully and content. Some parents were able to do this with ease and good support, trusting the process and unconditionally embracing their child and the people who can assist them. There are also those who picked up the fight against the rapid waters so fiercely, that they have been fearful of putting the struggle down since. Certainly, some picked up their path into new territory with determination, but live with fear and expectation of the sword of Damocles ahead. Many remain guarded and defensive, continuing on their way like wounded wildebeest, gnawing at the memory. They miss the rest of the journey. They miss the beautiful view.
Whatever your story, it will be unique to you and your child. It’s start will be one of your yesterdays, and in time it will be more and more distant, like all yesterdays are. The thing about any yesterday is that it’s heavy, put it down.