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Heading Due North

I grew up with the down home simple country phrase “it’s time to head due north” being said around my house.  I searched the origin of the saying and found the definition a bit complicated having to do with magnetic north and true north.  In our house, there was nothing complicated about the phrase, it simply meant time to get going, move forward, rise upward and get the job done.

Isn’t it funny how the very tools we are given in life become the basic tools we use when grief comes knocking on our door?  After my daughter Ashley died I was in shock and knocked to the ground.  One day the shock wore off and the trauma began.  Back in 2001 I had no roadmap, no guide to tell me how to walk through grief … I only had the basic coping tools I was given at home.

I remember distinctly waking up one morning and saying to myself, “it is probably time to start heading due north.” So, head straight north I did, with all the might I could muster up.   If only grief were that simple, if only the will to walk a straight line from the depths of deep pain to a place of no pain were possible.  As hard as I tried to head due north, to move forward, to rise above, to focus my attention on only what lies ahead …as hard as I tried I failed.

So, here I am 13 years later celebrating the launch of my new website and an amazing opportunity to share my message, music and heart with the world.  How did I get from there to here?  Not by heading only due north, I can tell you that.  The grief journey has taught me that there is healing and forward movement to be found in every direction. 

Heading due north allows me to see the road in front of me; it reminds me that I can still have goals and dreams and make plans.  But due north also cautions me that if I only aim north I will miss seeing important things that will help propel me to where I want to go.

Due South was a place of great pain in early grief.  When I was heading north and looking over my shoulder to the south I saw only Ashley’s death, I felt intense loss and pain in the memories which at that time overshadowed the love.  As I moved along on my journey, I began to cherish the days when the road would switchback and I could view a southern exposure filled with love and laughter and beautiful memories which could be seen and felt in spite of the pain.

Looking to the west was my daily reminder that the sun just like our lives can only shine bright for so long.  Due west is the guidepost of the limited time and opportunity we are given to make our day matter.  The sun setting in the western sky is my reality check that life is short and everything with the exception of love has an ending. 

Looking to the east gives me gratitude for the rising of the sun and the promise of the dawning of a new day.  It reminds me that life is a gift and that each day is a canvas given to me to mark with whatever colors I choose.  The rising of the sun is my metaphor for life before and after Ashley’s death.  When I gaze to the east and see only darkness, I embrace the darkness because due east has allowed me to trust that no matter how dark it might appear, soon there will be light.  Due east has never broken that promise to me.

This blog will be my personal space to write what I feel about many things.  I look forward to sharing many angles on topics from every direction. 

Thanks for reading,

Alan

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