I was going through my photography archives and found a photograph that made me stop and think about my life and self.

kanya2
Strength in Solitude ©MTHerzog

I grew up in a luxurious expat world, an ocean of endless possibilities where I never had to clean up after myself because the household staff would take care of that. Nevermind if I couldn’t cook even if my life depended on it, cooks could be hired, or we could eat out. Then comes adulthood and some life-changing reality checks, and I discovered that the dirty clothes don’t walk over to the washing machine on their own, the house doesn’t self-clean and eating out all the time is out of the question.

Marriage and parenthood took me back to the glamorous but shallow expat world, where I learned to associate with people out of diplomacy rather than interest, most of whom I would never have sought out on my own volition. Decades later, I find that I have filtered out the special ones I met along the way and retained them in my life one way or another. We may not communicate on a regular basis, but we both know how special we are in each other’s lives, regardless of whether they are in Manila, the UK, Burma, the Netherlands, Spain, the USA, Canada, Germany or Timbuktu. You know who you are and understand the sand dunes of my life.

Yes, the ocean exists behind me and now I live by a river, learning to understand the new flow and discovering the strength of walking in a desert, dealing with the heat rather than warmth. The trick is to do it like the woman in the photograph, a stranger whose name or story I never found out, but her grace and simplicity were worn so well.