I arrived in Panama two months ago. On one of the first days I sat outside in the garden and I started to cry. Everything felt so foreign, so unfamiliar. ‘I just want to go hooomee’, I was whining inside myself while crying. I then thought of the farm we just left, the place I had called home for 10 years and was struck with a memory of one of the first days when I arrived in South Africa. I had just met Bernard and everyone else living and visiting the farm at that stage. I was in my room alone sitting on my bed, holding a pillow and I was crying. Everything felt so foreign, everything felt so unfamiliar. Bernard scared the shit out of me. What did I do? Why did I come here? I just want to go hoooomeee…’
Sitting in the garden in Panama I wiped up the last bit of tears and snot as I was going down memory lane. At least, I thought, I was feeling homesick then too – and it turned out to be one the best years of my life spent there. So at least I know I can’t use my current experience to determine my future experience of the place.
I sat a bit longer and placed my attention to my time in Belgium, where I lived before South Africa. I remembered how I was always in awe of people from other countries. How even though Belgium was my home country, my ‘motherland’ I had never quite felt at ‘home’ or as if I ‘belonged’. I didn’t particularly enjoy Belgian culture / way of life. I didn’t see myself staying in Belgium.
So if not any one particular country ever really felt like ‘home’ – and I’m feeling ‘homesick’ – am I really longing back for a place or am I longing simply for a state of being that I miss?
The ‘who I was’ – ‘while I happened to be over there’.
And yup, that was pretty much just it. I had just been missing me. With all the travel arrangements, the stress and whatnot that comes with wrapping up a life in one country and starting somewhere new – it was as if for a moment there were just so many things orbiting around myself, things to consider, things to keep track of, my reactions towards all that was happening – that I lost sight and connection with me. Everything ‘out there’ needed to be handled first and foremost.
Now that we’ve mostly settled down, I still get homesick – but now I know to use this as a reminder to check in with myself. To check where my attention and focus has been, how much of it has gone to trivial matters, how much of it has gone to reactions and patterns that could have been nipped in the bud way sooner? How comfortable am I in naturally flowing and expressing me? What’s holding me back?
In the end, this whole process we’re walking, our Journey to Life – is one big homecoming.