“And the end of all our exploring | Will be to arrive where we started | And know the place for the first time.” -T.S. Eliot
I was watching a biography piece on Sting via The Kennedy Center Honors last month when I first heard Meryl Streep convey this quote. They were talking about how Sting grew up near a shipyard in England and came full circle by writing his recent Broadway musical, The Last Ship. The quote comes from T.S. Eliot’s poem, Little Gidding– which is about uniting our past, present, and future and how this is essential for a Christian’s salvation. And for whatever reason, it’s still on my mind.
To know a place for the first time is a simple concept… if one has never been there. But if you try to comprehend the idea of knowing a place for the first time when it’s somewhere you have already been- well, that’s where it gets confusing for me. Maybe to “know the place for the first time” means we’ll see it in a new light, with experienced eyes. Or maybe we never knew it in the first place. Perhaps we begin our lives so naive and innocent. Perhaps we begin in a bright and marvelous world. And as we progress through life, it becomes tarnished.
But with the blood shed, heartaches, and rusting of age, we gain experience and knowledge. And perhaps this savoir-faire enables us to one day see what we never could in the beginning. And if this is true, does our end justify the means?
At this point in my life, I am still on the “figuring myself out” track. I don’t know what I want. I don’t completely know who I am. And that’s okay. Everyone is somewhere different on their personal paths. It’s not like school- where everyone is given the same assignment and expected to turn it in at the same time. And although we are unique to our own odysseys, we share the brilliant experience of being human beings. At the end of our individual exploring, maybe we’ll come back together and share in that pure beginning.