I had a great chat (over 10 cent beers) tonight with a Vietnam war vet, a super friendly man from Washington state, and an old guy from just south of home; One of those chats that turned into a conversation much more stimulating than the usual backpacker small talk (the fact that they weren’t backpacking probably helped).
They asked me about my trip and marvelled at its length (the usual reaction), but then asked if I was ever homesick. Not a new question…just a new answer. For the first time, I answered ‘No’ without a caveat to follow. The dictionary definition of homesick: longing for home and family while absent from them.
In fact, being away has allowed me to eliminate geography as an excuse for losing contact with people I care about and investing in people I don’t. My ever-changing whereabouts has given me the freedom to escape people I don’t care to have in my life…people that if I had met at home I may have felt guilty avoiding simply due to convenience of location.
This gives me time to keep touch with friends I do care about…Friends that could be in the same city back home, so I feel less pressure to stay in contact because its there when I want it…Important friends that live far but contact hinders as we get so busy with our every day grind and the people that are simply there. The fact that I’m so far has allowed me to assess my relationships without the fog of environmental context.
The fog, or ‘avidya’ as per my yoga books, created by contextual convenience that was guiding my relationships has been lifted. In other words I’m seeing clearly. Obviously when I head home I will still have people I’m only friends with because they live close or work with me….but that’s part of socialization. Realizing now how important certain friends and my family are to me makes me excited to go home because I know that appreciating those people and what they mean to me will be easier, but being in contact with them and as connected to them as I am considering our geographical gap makes me feel less ‘homesick’. I don’t long for them because a)social media has made it easy-as to keep tabs and b)those who matter make an effort.
I could have said this to you a couple months ago…the bit about knowing who my real friends are…in fact I probably did. What I’ve come to realize through talking to the trio tonight was that I was more homesick living in Edmonton a 3 hour drive from Calgary than I am now…a 15 hour flight away. When I was in Edmonton (at times) if I got homesick I longed for who people used to be, or maybe who I used to be, or what I used to have. The shift is that I have accepted that it will never be the same; I will never be the same. Who we are as people determines our view, our perspective and perception of the world–our world…our life. I’m not longing for anything because the only optimistic perspective is that if I continue to evolve, things will only be better.
Being in control of my actions, and thus my life gives me the power to create each day better than the last. So no, I don’t long for the way things were or what I used to have. It`s not worth getting emotional about what used to be. If it was so great then make it happen again, but chances are things a different for the better. My friends are all different than when I met them, so are our friendships, that is what makes them stronger.
I`ve hit a turning point in my journey. I am officially in the last half of it, and it has (unlike birthdays after elementary school) actually made me feel much different. I have an urgency again, a sense of holy shit this is going to be that year I look back on and think about/refer to for years to come, and an awareness more than ever that this trip is going to be a pillar in who I am as a person in 20 years…more than anything I’ve done in the past 2 decades. The fact that I am in this moment…this moment being a year in this case…is completely empowering. Perhaps that’s why I’m not ‘homesick’. Not because I’m running away or afraid to go back…but because I can’t wait to create a new ‘home’ when I return, because for the first time I am confident that it will be better than the way I left it. I have no reason to long for what was, only to be thrilled about what is to come.