As the world in California continues to re-open, it feels important to spend some time with the family of words joined by the prefix “re,” that powerful modifier that means “back, again.” And when we find ourselves talking unmasked in close proximity to strangers, some not-so-distant part of ourselves recognizes (another “re” word!) that we are back in a familiar world that we have been exiled from. We are again in a place that we took for granted and now perhaps (or perhaps not) appreciate anew.
The more consciously we re-enter this familiar world, the more we open the possibility to both a personal and collective transformation that has eluded us in our busy, merry-go-round life. With all those horses bobbing up and down endlessly circling to loud music, we were driven to distraction with neither the time nor inclination to sit quietly and discover what the world might offer “apart from the pulling and hauling.” The pandemic changed all that. Or at least offered the possibility.
Some words to consider as we re-enter our more familiar life.
To turn and to turn shall be our delight,
Till by turning, turning, we come round right. — Simple Gifts
Unlike the machine-driven merry-go-round with someone else’s pace and music, the Shaker notion of turning (and the Sufi’s as well) was to find the still center in the dance, to know with the intuitive wisdom of our pet dog, just when it is time to lie down into the comfort of “the place just right.” To re-turn is to turn again to look anew at the perspectives one missed when we always look forward in one direction. To notice what is behind us, to the side. And so to arrive at “the valley of love and delight,” with all sides considered.
To make new again that which had grown old through disuse or inattention, to renew the book at the library to give yourself more time to read it more carefully and ponder the parts you missed, to wash the car or paint the room or spend time with your spouse instead of buying a new car, new house, looking for a new spouse— all this and more allows us to step out of the pandemic with old eyes seeing anew, old ears hearing anew, our old heart feeling anew. Renewed.
“Joven” means “young“ in Spanish and to rejuvenate is to reenter the world with new energy and youthful vigor. By the energy of youth I don’t mean wishing we could type faster with our thumbs and turn heads when we enter a bar, but accessing a faculty that is independent of age, a cultivated innocence and freshness that revitalizes all who come in contact with it. We will need that kind of energy to meet what awaits us on the other side of the pandemic door.
Perhaps the most important of the list, to re-store is to re-story, to re-tell the origin stories that give our life and culture meaning. To collectively revisit the Constitution, to return words to their origins and make language meaningful again, to find the story we’re in by reclaiming our truthful histories and soul-uplifiting myths, to consider what story we need to tell, we need to live, to make sense of who we are and where we are now and who we hope to be and where we hope to go.
When we live well, we are constantly in the cycle of repairing, rebuilding, reinstating, renovating our old selves, be it breath by breath, day by day, month by month or within a full year (and more) pandemic. We humans are constantly forgetting and remembering, exiled and welcomed back, down in the dumps or flying high. Our lives are not a steadily rising corporate graph where we watch our spiritual wealth grow, but a constant cyclical reoccurrence, a tidal ebb and flow, a seasonal circling.
So let’s live more fully in the “re’s” and apologies that I didn’t have time to express this better by re-writing it!