How living near a Nursing Home offers Perspective

Credit: Glen Hodson

We moved eight times while we lived in Sydney. My aversion to DIY was a running joke. When something broke in the house, Anne-marie would ask whether it was time to move on.

With a growing family, we finally bought our forever home in 2010 – at least we thought that at the time.

By a strange twist of fate, the house sat opposite a nursing home.

I would often look across the road at the older Aussies visiting their dying relatives. And I would think, do I want my last days to be here? I couldn’t imagine it. That’s not to say you should make your life decisions based on how you MIGHT feel in one short time, one moment in the future you might not even reach. But it was just another signal of our growing awareness of how long we had been away and whether we wanted to stay.

And we let those signals percolate. They vibrate at their frequency and over time, one of two things happen. 

  1. They die down but never disappear completely, or 
  2. They build to a crescendo, and perhaps you will find yourself in Phase 2 – Decide. 

You don’t necessarily consciously step into the Decision phase. You will more likely find yourself there after some time of growing awareness.

Awareness is just where you place your attention. When you emigrate first, everything is so damn new. You love it. But new things become routine. And this might seem obvious, but you were younger when you first emigrated. 

The book Happiness By Design talks about happiness as a combination of pleasure and purpose. When we are young, we favour the experience of pleasure. We become independent of our family unit and seek high-risk, high rewards as we try to establish for ourselves the theory our parents taught us about the world. Some of us veer towards a hedonistic lifestyle. A new country suits that phase of life. And that new country will gradually become comfortable for us. It may even continue to serve our needs as we move towards a more rounded definition of happiness as both pleasure AND purpose. If so, all is well and good, then no need to move.

But sometimes, our need for purpose, a sense of meaning, a feeling that we are part of something bigger, and a more selfless outward view of the world changes our perspective.

We might recognise that those strong roots which allowed us to fly, are perhaps due to where and how we grew up. Maybe not the physical place, but the people and the environment. We might begin to think that we owe those roots to our children. These thoughts are not strictly logical but form a story – and stories are vital to humans. They help us make sense of our world. And during the awareness phase and beyond, you are weaving a story to help you make sense of your world. 

Nurturing your awareness, not rushing it, but noticing these moments is crucial for your own emotional and mental well-being. It will also serve you in making sense of your journey, both past and future. Do not fear those moments of doubt, fear, anger and confusion. Each contains nuggets of information and notes that will ultimately play a clear tune for you. 

All you have to do is listen.

James Parnell is the founder of A New Dawn in Ireland community and provides online coaching for anyone inspired to change their life.

This article is an excerpt from the book A New Dawn in Ireland. If you would like to be notified when the book is published simply register here.

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