Living in another country than the one you were born in is both an exciting adventure and sometimes a bit of heartache. There is something about childhood’s old stomping grounds that tugs at those very special heartstrings sometimes causing spells of nostalgia and longing. We are always drawn back to the place we were born.
But returning can sometimes not be as idyllic and comforting as we think. As expatriates, or someone living away from their country of permanent residence, we, and that is me included, often romanticize our home country, the friendships we have there and our family bonds. Especially if we are away for a long time without being able to go for visits.
Seeing that special street you played on again, or chatting with old friends, or just opening the door to your childhood home can be a pretty strange experience. It certainly was for me. There was so much that had changed. And the most prominent change was within me.
I had started looking at things differently. And the world around me changed accordingly.
It’s strange meeting childhood friends again after years of being apart. Sometimes the bond that was there can’t be re-tied. Sometimes you start remembering differently. Memories are subjective and change according to our mood. I have, during these weeks in my childhood home, had to rethink, reclaim, and change color of a lot of memories.
As people we grow all the time. Mental growth goes through spurts just like physical growing in our childhood, only these mental growth spurts can happen anytime no matter how old we are.
When we are adults we learn how to separate from our egos and look at ourselves more or less objectively. We learn and we reflect and consequently we grow. Self-insight is a gift and it comes with age.
Going back in time, looking at who we were, reliving situations from our past separate from our egos with the wisdom of age, can be painful, but it’s a healing pain like the thumping ache in a wound.
Every single moment we have experienced, every person we have been, every age, every phase, they are all apart of us. Sometimes it’s hard to accept certain people we have been, some choices we made, things we have said, things we have done. Perhaps we are embarrassed or disappointed. But I find that it is often these most painful memories that teach us the most about ourselves. If we can relieve them with understanding, separate from our egos, from a perspective of learning.
Learning. I think learning, learning about the world, about ourselves, about being human, is why we are alive. And no learning comes from judgement. Learning comes from a willingness to understand and openness to change.
We are all many different people, yet all those are one and the same. We are different pieces put together to make a unique collage. Sometimes, we may feel that we are playing a role, we are not being ourselves. But those roles are true parts of ourselves too. Every drop of ourselves we drip into this world holds our true spirit, like the DNA we accidentally leave everywhere we go. A role is never a role, it’s just a different version of ourselves. And often, these roles are the ones to hold clues to solve the puzzles of who we are or who we want to be.
Being human is complicated. Attachment is complicated. Sometimes we underestimate the power of attachment. Sometimes we overestimate it. Love and attachment is not the same thing. They are close relatives, but not the same. Attachment is the biological name for love. We need attachment, we don’t need love. But that is what makes love so beautiful. We are never forced to love or to be loved. It’s impossible. Love is much stronger than force.
Meeting your past selves in the door, your past lives, can be challenging. Physically walking through the fields you walked through to go to school is not the same as making that journey mentally. We can of course do either or, but doing both changes us. It changes us because we learn, we forgive, we learn to, or rather we make the choice to, Love all those past selves and past lives.
That choice makes us stronger, stronger than most people. When we choose to love our mistakes, to love our weaknesses and our faults, and no longer look at them as mistakes, weaknesses or faults, but redefine them in light of our present awareness as consequences of an imperfect, vulnerable person interacting with an unpredictable chaotic world, we also learn to see other people in the same way. We learn true compassion born of deep enlightened empathy. A compassion that surpasses religion, moral and holy books and becomes a true beacon lit by ourselves, a beacon we can relight any time, and that only we ourselves can choose to darken and let die out.
Traveling is important. Actual physical traveling, traveling back in time, traveling through our memories, traveling through our minds. It is, perhaps, the most important thing we can do. Take time to travel. It will change you. It will make you grow.
True bravery is daring to face all our true selves and smile warmly back no matter how embarrassing or distressing it is.
The cliche says that life is a journey, well then let’s try to be the best travelers we can be. They say travel lightly, only pack what you need, but the truth is we need everything, every experience, every embarrassment, every wound, every sadness. If the journey is traveling through our humanity then we need everything that makes us human n our backpacks otherwise it is completely pointless and we might as well stay home.
Have an amazing Journey, fellow travelers!