John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

The cathartic experience

Back home after two weeks in Ireland and still recuperating from a bad flu I caught over there. I suspect I got it on one of the buses we took to get across the country. We opted not to drive; the steering wheel is on the opposite side and we weren’t sure we should risk an accident on vacation, although now I regret that decision since a car is faster and less expensive way to get around the country that is so small.  
To my knowledge I am the first in my entire family to return there since my relatives left there for America just over one hundred years ago.  And the roots in Ireland are deep. We are four generation in America and several hundred in Ireland.
Overall the trip was a cathartic experience for me.
Cathartic.  Do you know the word? It comes to us from the Greek word kathartikos, the combination of two other words meaning cleansing and a purification process that has now come to mean the intellectual clarification of  a concept brought into consciousness.
I strive to make the cathartic experience a normal and reoccurring part of my evolutionary transformation because the cathartic experience heals us, it purifies us by getting rid of all of the harmful specks from our hearts and minds and brings us back to a previous status before we were sidetracked by whatever experience we needed to purge from ourselves, from those things that center us and bring us to a better understanding, a fuller understanding, of who we are.
The cathartic experience is an ancient practice in most of the world’s religions where the act of purification is fulfilled with the help of water, blood, fire, change of clothes, and sacrifice. Those rituals, in fact the entire cathartic experience itself are intended to be a healing practice. So when  the cathartic experience  comes, whether I like what it delivers or not I embrace it and then carry on.
In Ireland I realized how courageous and how much grit and self-respect my ancestors who left for America truly had.  I also realized I really have nothing in common with the Irish or with Ireland itself and decided to distance myself from all things Irish and to embrace my American roots.
It’s no small thing for me to distance myself from my Celtic roots. Growing up poor without any family,  my American- Irish roots gave me an anchor to clutch, a way to kept from becoming lost in vast world of rootlessness. And that sense of detachment from anything solid, anything good and permanent is one major reason why so many orphans fail in life.  So for me, letting go of this small part of me isn’t a loss rather I take it as a sign that I am betting and sound footing in my life.

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