Descansos is the term used in Spanish for sites along the highway that mark the passing of a loved one. Descansos, which means resting places, originated as a way to memorialize the locations where funeral processions stopped to rest on the journey between church and burial grounds. Thus, they were spaces that interrupted the journey to the finality of death. Rooted in the culture of Hispanics in the Southwest, one now sees descansos throughout the country, as individuals and families erect crosses, leave wreaths, or in some other way mark where the loss of a loved one occurred along the highway.
In a similar way, individuals experience personal descansos – resting spots – in the life journey between what was and what is to come. In this blog, the reader will note such a resting, a putting away of the semiregular posting of my thoughts and words, as I navigated difficult passages in life. While navigating the passages, instead of narrating them through my writing, I chose silence. Now, to paraphrase Proust, in search of lost time, I must rely on memory.
There comes a moment, precipitated by an event, an emotion, or a thought, when we reencounter ourselves as if viewing self from a distance. Or, perhaps we are jolted into introspection as the result of an existential crisis. Our reaction is often to stop, to ponder, to question our identity, our integrity, our framework of beliefs. In response, we pause and engage in self-examination as we endeavor to find answers to the questions that arose –Who is my authentic self? What is my next true step? What do I really accept as true?
The concept of descansos becomes a metaphor for the interrupted journey and the resulting growth that individuals experience as they progress through life. How often have we felt like Gertie, in the movie ET, just before the alien caused the pieces of fruit to rise from the map of the solar system and rotate in the air? It is a time that often catches us unexpectedly, without preparation for the flood of emotions and thoughts that fill us with a sense of feeling confused and astray. Such are the times in our lives when the impulse arises to examine the direction of our lives and to readjust, to recalculate. It is the process of examination, of readjusting, and recalculating – particularly in the gifted self – that I choose to address in posts that follow.
Until then, my readers, I would welcome your responses to my reflection…