Last month, our family left our home of ten years in Ohio for Central Europe, where we will make our home for the next few years. Each of us, including my husband and our three school-aged sons, has gone through a different process of leaving, and we all have had areas of our lives where leaving has almost taken a crowbar to pry us away. We all had our own pieces of comfort and familiarity that were particularly tough to leave behind.
The hard part of leaving is a very personal process, I think. For when we need to move on and have to leave something behind, we leave a part of ourselves as well. It’s easy to focus on the things we leave behind, the pieces torn from our lives by the wake of change. Far harder, I think, is opening the mind to the new possibilities ushered in by change and catching fleeting serendipity as it flutters by.
We are now in our new environment, and daily we are finding many delights and great surprises that far surpass what we thought we would find—new friends, flowers, foods, culture, and the accessibility of family via the internet. Two small examples: even though we left behind beautiful gardens, the floral beauties in Prague are lush and cascade from countless windowboxes and gardens on every street. And even though we left behind a small aquarium where some of our sons’ favorite creatures were the snails (that tragically never stayed alive long), our boys have discovered countless snails in our yard at our new house in Prague. I’m convinced that never before have snails been so loved like pets, despite the familiar saying for “snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of.” Yes, the new has us thrilled in ways we couldn’t have imagined—and certainly the discovery will continue. We are grateful. Perhaps new shouldn’t feel so scary.
When we leave something behind, yes, we do leave a piece of ourselves in the process, but I now believe we also gain something more as well. For in the process of moving forward into the unknown, we find a place where we are stretched and can more fully connect with the essence of who we are and that which we are truly made. Perhaps only in the unknown can we discover possibilities far wider than what we previously imagined; only in the new place can we really find a larger part of ourselves.