A few days ago my dad visited my home on a technical mission. He wanted to copy our old family home videos onto his IPad—transforming years of precious memories into High Definition glory.
Not being very technically minded, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to help. Nevertheless, I did try. Video after video we attempted to convert the files. Sadly, but predictably, it didn’t work and the IT mission was aborted. Instead, we embarked on family time. I made us both a cup of tea, his with honey, mine without, and we sat together in a consuming silence and watched the videos.
Rewind 28 years. We had both been transported into our pasts.
That night, after my dad went home, I couldn’t stop thinking about life, my life. The way it is now and the way it was back then. Watching these videos had unearthed a curiosity about my past. My mind repeated variations of this question: ‘is this the way my life is meant to be?’ Of course, I could not answer this almighty destiny-related query. As an alternative, I focused my mind on the lessons I had learned from the two-year-old who starred in the home videos.
This is what I discovered…
1. Material things really don’t matter.
Life looked simple in my past. I watched my younger self be enchanted by a book, a ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ book.
My dad, who was behind the camera, was speaking to me and asking questions about the book, I was thrilled by this dialogue. In my broken words I told my dad about Thomas. Repeating the same sentence over and over again and although the words were the same, my tone was different each time. I can only imagine that despite not having the words, I was trying to express my emotions over what had happened in the story.
I was learning and developing with my dad and my book. It was beautiful to watch and see my younger self thriving in an environment of simplicity and love.
However, as the home video played on I became aware that my childhood bedroom was filled with toys; toys that were piled high on the shelves around me. Strangely, I could not remember having all of this, nor could I remember playing with any of it.
I was happy with my dad, and my book.
I was enough. He was enough. I didn’t really need all of that other stuff.
2. Parents are humans too.
During the videos I saw my mum and dad being ‘normal’, doing things that I do now—getting ready for work, preparing dinner, laughing and also getting frustrated. They were not perfect parenting robots gliding faultlessly through life. They were real. They are real. They are just like me—feeling everything. Love, sadness, joy and fear. We are the same. Learning as we go and gaining experience over time.
This realisation was beautifully timed as I am approaching motherhood myself. It gave me permission to ‘shake off’ my perfect parenting pressures and focus on being my authentic self.
Perfection does not exist and it should not exist. Underneath it all, parent and child, we are the same souls navigating our worlds.
3. Death is now a little less scary.
As time passes, everything changes. Life is transforming, ending and regenerating. In my home video, there were six people who are no longer ‘here’. My gran, grandpa and great aunts and uncles from both sides of the family.
All of these wonderful beings passed away at different times, spanning across a 28-year period.
Somehow, however, in that moment of watching the video they didn’t feel gone to me. I was viewing the past from the present and it seemed very real. The only way I can explain it is, for example, when you smell a particular scent and it invokes a powerful emotion. You are transported to that place and time. The sight of my family, seeing them ‘living’ and going about their everyday lives, bridged the gap between space and spirit. By watching them, I could feel them. They were alive to me.
These thoughts helped me to peel back one of the many layers of fear that I have towards death. I am now more at peace knowing that even when we are gone, our vibrations can still be felt by those who we love.
4. There is love to be found, everywhere.
Happiness and love were themes that flourished from the videos. It was uplifting to watch because everyone was alive with love. Now, that’s not to say that those family members in the video didn’t have problems. I could tell that each person carried their own personal baggage and struggles with life, as we all do from time to time. But despite all of that, love was still the primary driving force. It radiated from each person in a different and endearing way—and I was submerged in it.
I probably knew it all along, but this video reminded me that I was made from love and nurtured by it-–-which is a warming and encouraging thought to have, especially on the days when love feels a little quieter.
Collectively, these lessons made me realise that in my home video I was doing the very thing that now I desperately strive to achieve: to live in the present. As a young child I was completely focused on the moment, enchanted by life and mesmerised by learning and wonder. “Donna”, my inner child said, “I can remind you how to get there”.
Author: Donna MacLellan
Editor: Caroline Beaton