This is a sketch - a kind of field guide to connection, inspired by a recent visit to a Carehome where I accompanied a mother living with dementia and her daughter on a journey to a new kind of conversation, with support from Rights Made Real and My Home Life.
Imagine a path that is paved as the person you love walks it. And imagine that you are walking alongside them. With each step, you walk, not towards a destination, but into each moment. The path is paved by the act of you being present in this moment, together.
Each encounter is new, each path unique and full of possibility. Gently let go of the ‘how are yous’ of everyday meeting, for this is not an everyday meeting. Allow yourself, instead, a moment to notice what is beautiful, and to share it...’oh! My love! Look at your shining blue eyes!’
As you walk slowly along, you see signs - invitations - for you to follow, like symbols on a map. Perhaps a gesture, a word, a breath, a glint in the eye, a touch. You notice them all and choose to follow one. First, you observe, carefully, without judgement. Now you repeat, feeling it in your own mouth or body, discovering your own pleasure in it. Next, emboldened, you begin to build and gradually explore - curious for where this tributary will take you both.
Through this exploration, your loved one knows that they have been seen, been heard. You confirm their place on this path, and that you are there, walking in-step. They sense that what they have said or done means something important to you, and is worth repeating. Hitting your stride now, you make an invitation of your own - exploration becomes exchange as the path clears and the horizon comes into view, the sun-kissed landscape rolling out before you.
You lift your eyes together, at all the possibilities, full of ease, grace and wonder.
You will see, of course, that not all invitations are possible for you to travel together. Some will be a dead end for you or for your loved one, some will feel disorientating or confusing, some will simply disappear as you move towards them.
There will be times when you feel lost or stuck. When you can’t see any signposts at all, when the fog comes down and the compass is spinning.
It’s natural now to feel the loss. The despair of what is no longer there. The vertigo and fear that comes with constant change. The desire to to make sense of the senseless. That’s okay.
When that happens, pause on the path-side awhile, sit on your suitcase and breathe. the breath is your North Star. When you breathe together, you’ll never be truly lost.
I am a therapeutic clown and performer. Writing here is part of my wider practice and maybe some of my thoughts will trigger some thoughts of your own and I hope that helps.