“Give up your heart left broken, and let that mistake pass on, ’cause the love that you lost wasn’t worth what it cost and in time you’ll be glad it’s gone.”
My parents own forty acres of land in Northern Minnesota, which we call Bruinswood. During the summer the land is so green and lush and everything seems so pure that it can heal the most battered soul and broken heart. The trees are soldiers protecting their home standing firmly in place appearing wise and stoic. It is a kingdom where imagination is encouraged. A place filled with magic, hope and love and if their heart is searching it will enrich the lives of everyone who visits.
My older brother is the type of guy that everyone should have in their life. He is an all around great guy. He’s generous, funny, smart, kind, creative, hard working and easy going. He is a very good person but he has his demons. He drinks too much, smokes too much and he never puts his needs above anyone else’s. He never expresses what troubles him; instead he’ll keep it secret letting it fester in his heart. He is a proud person and he doesn’t often ask for help.
Up until late last summer my brother lived in St. Paul, Minnesota. He worked as a Sous Chef in a popular gastro pub that was always busy. He was unhealthy, living in a dark place in his life brought on by exhaustion and deprivation. He wasn’t eating right, he didn’t sleep enough, he was overworked and underpaid. He was lonely, depressed and heartbroken and he was drowning his sorrows far too often at the bottom of a bottle. He was burned out, his creative drive had become stagnate, he had lost his way and he didn’t like who he had become.
One day he quit his job, packed his things and left what he thought was his life in his rear-view mirror. He moved back to Bruinswood feeling like he had failed, he was scared that he wouldn’t be able to find his way again.
As autumn approached the leaves began to turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange and the weather turned rainy and cool and he got sick, he spent a lot of his time trying to catch up on sleep. When he got his strength back he started spending time outside wandering around Bruinswood and one afternoon I joined him on the back of our dad’s four-wheeler. I held on tightly to the bars as he sped up. The wind blew my hair back and I could smell the earth around me from the fresh rain. He had been gone a long time. I could tell the wind was wiping his stress and anxiety away. And I saw the slow smile spread across his face, something he hadn’t truly done in a long time.
From there things only got better. He started cooking again and felt inspired enough to start creating new culinary delights. As the last of the autumn leaves fell from the trees he started hunting regularly. He spent a lot of time ice fishing as soon as the lakes were frozen enough to drive on. He had his first real vacation in years and he started making more time for the family. In the spring the trees started to grow buds and the ground thawed and he was finally ready to go back to where everything had turned gray and visit the people he had left behind. It was then that I asked him if he was ready to move back. He told me that it wasn’t his life anymore and that he wasn’t sure if it ever really was.
It’s been nearly a year now and Bruinswood’s trees are in full bloom with varying shades of green and my brother is finally the man he was meant to be all along. He’s happy, he drinks less, he jokes more often, he smiles habitually, he’s healthier, he has meat on his bones now and he has goals for his future.
In life we deal with things that aren’t always pleasant. We see things we wished we hadn’t. And we do things that we never thought we’d do. Life always finds a way of telling you exactly what you need to hear as long as you listen long enough and hard enough. You can give up on life and choose to end it or you can go on fighting and maybe somewhere along the way you will discover the meaning of your life. There is no right or wrong answer but there are lots of possibilities. My brother knows that now. He sees it. That’s the magic of Bruinswood, just when you think it’s given up on you it gives you the hope to survive and helps you to believe that there really is a reason for everything.