One of my good friends and walking pals. Michael, remarked he has lost all the “markers” in his days as one after another all of his volunteering gigs, meetings and appointments have been cancelled. I know others struggle with trying to work from home with kids around, territory they may have had to navigate only on an occasional sick day in the past. Many kids too are lost in this crazy new world of ours, wondering what the heck is going on and will they ever get back to the old normal. Schools in Vermont, it was announced today, are closed for the remainder of the year.
Many or our normal markers are missing and, in addition, the territory is new and that is both isconcerting and exhausting. We feel lost because we are—most of us have never been here!
I thought today of the First Nation people of Nunavut, a place I know only from a couple visits to Iqaluit on Baffin Island. Not only has their ancient and very highly developed way of life disappeared since the turn of the century but along with it their cultural markers. Many struggle with depression and addiction, while others are finding ways to regain or keep some of what was lost because it is essential to their being who they are.
When I first walked out on the tundra there, I quickly realized I could easily become lost because the “markers” I was used to—roads, trees, mountains, lakes—either did not exist or looked so different as to be unrecognizable to me. I can only imagine what it would have looked like a month later when all was covered in snow!
The Inuit people of that land had long ago figured out how to find their way around and navigated as easily as we might in a familiar city with street names. While I never learned the land to that degree, I did learn to be extremely careful about my surroundings when I was dropped of at the end of the “Road to Nowhere” (literally), and eventually found markers, natural and others, including inuksuks, that I could use to find my way back home.
Walking carefully in that strange land, I was soon able to breathe more easily and be in the moment, which then overflowed with a beauty rich beyond my believing, a clear link to how the Inuits had such a rich cultural heritage.
Many of us have, at some point in life, been lost. Fear certainly has gripped me more than once this week, and I also know that inside me are my own “inuksuks”—hope, love, caring, intelligence and more—all of which form a path I am beginning to recognize as the one that will take me, if not back to the home I came from, at least to a place that makes sense and nurtures me. Be well, friends, and keep taking care of each other.