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Brother Mark is a pseudonym of The Reverend Dr Robert Jaggs-Fowler, a clergyman, physician, writer and poet. His biography can be found at: www.robertjaggsfowler.com

Monday, April 03, 2006

Finding Oneself

I have been commissioned to write another book review. This time it is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. (No, the spelling of the title is not a mistake; the book is American.) At the start of the book is a poem that brought me up short as soon as I read it. It struck such an accord that I have returned to it repeatedly over the past forty-eight hours. It is as though someone has written a poem to describe precisely what has happened to me over the past few years.

From about the age of twenty-five, when I qualified in medicine, I started to lead a life which was almost singular in its pursuit. For most of the time, I was engaged in developing my professional career and enhancing my business opportunities. I went from one goal to another, establishing myself within various societies and charities, achieving a comfortable level of financial existence and gaining various offices, which gave me rank and position within society.

At the age of forty, I began, as many do at that age, to reassess where I was, what I had achieved and where I was going for the rest of my life. I began to realise that I had, for some fifteen years, pushed a major part of myself to one side in order to achieve what I had. In essence, it was the artistic and philosophical side of me; the side that guided me through the more spiritual days of my teens and early twenties. As a result, I found myself looking at my reflection within mirrors and asking myself rhetorical questions. As I did so, I enjoyed what I found. I began to make changes which slowly allowed the ‘old me’ to re-surface. I started to make more time for activities that gave personal pleasure. It was like a re-awakening, as though I had suddenly been given permission to once again be my true self. Six years on, the process continues and I have to say that, at this period of my life, I could not be happier or more contented.

The poem at the beginning of The Time Traveler’s Wife is entitled Love After Love. It is by Derek Walcott, who won the Noble Prize for Literature. Love After Love comes from his 1976 collection entitled Sea Grapes and can be found in his Collected Poems 1948 – 1984, published by Faber & Faber.

It is a poem about the discovery of oneself. It begins:

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door…

That time has come for me and I have indeed greeted the arrival home of myself.

I recommend the poem to you. It can be found in its entirety at: www.sbc.edu/seminars/walcott.html

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