“Home is not where you were born. Home is where all your attempts to scape cease” – Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian writer and Nobel Prize in Literature 1988.
A couple of months ago I reached out to a friend I met during my travels. We met at a silent meditation retreat and spent a few weeks island hopping in SE Asia afterwards.
Every time we messaged each other, he would remind me of how thankful he was that I invited him to come along and spend some quiet and relaxing time at the beach, doing yoga, eating noodles and curries, and getting lost riding motorbikes under pouring rain. Every time, he would remind me of how lost he was when we left that retreat, and how welcome he felt by the invitation.
After we said goodbye and I continued my journey north, we kept in touch. He stayed in the islands, survived one of the worst floods in years, and started teaching at a local yoga school where, I believe, he still is.
Last time we exchanged messages, I updated him on my whereabouts. For him, who ended up staying there, with occasional travels home and to other Asian countries, it was difficult to grasp my need for constant movement. He asked me “what is it that you keep searching, and why can’t you find it”?
Until then, I hadn’t looked at my travels as a search, but as something naturally inherent to me, as a basic need to my self-balance. I mean, when you are searching for something, you are searching for what you need [want], right? So if you already have [and live] that, does it mean you’re still searching?
It was so clear to me that it was not a search, that it took me a while to understand his question. Until recently.
Lately, his question has been following me. Especially after my recent move, which was not meant to be as temporary as the latest ones. This time, I moved wishing to stay for a while, if not necessarily in the country, certainly in the region. I moved to a place I wished I had never left; and it feels like I have found something.
But how come I “found” if I wasn’t searching? It made me think that, perhaps, I’ve been looking for ways to stop my attempts to scape. Perhaps, I’ve been searching for home, even though I thought home was anywhere.
In a month from now, Literal Uncertainty turns 3. Three years of embracing uncertainty and being open to the unexpected, to the unknown, to the uncertain. Three years of listening carefully to my intuition, of freaking out once in a while, and of learning to accept that I simply don’t have an answer to the question “what’s next?”.
Acceptance is a daily exercise. Even when we think we know, we don’t. Period. And when we think we don’t, we do… in a way we always do – but it’s not always what and how we would like it to be.
Acceptance involves understanding the highs and lows, the excitements and boredoms, and all the moods, and fears, and joy that come along. It doesn’t mean accepting whatever happens without questioning, without wanting to change. It is a learning process, through which we learn how to deal with the constant groundlessness of life.
For the time being, I confess: I am indeed experiencing the joy of feeling home. For now, my attempts to scape whatever it is that I was trying to get away from have ceased. Right now I can focus on the uncertainties of a daily routine. At least for now.
Time to let my friend know I’ll be visiting soon.