Our sense of who we are as humans is very much determined by the place we are in and the people we are with.
When that changes – casually, gently, abruptly or violently – the ways we have of finding our worth and sensing our significance can shift, or completely vanish… who am I NOW?
It can be in anything from starting a new job, school, uni, moving city, country… New customs, language, landscape, weather, people… It’s an experience of dislocation. Even if we purposed the change ourselves. And sometimes it’s violent or abrupt. A death, a health scare, a relationship break up… Somewhere we don’t want to be…
The exile MAY boast a higher standard of living, better weather, safer environment – but it’s not ‘home’ as we know it. And we often fight it. The very thing that can mould us and change us for the better.
Thing is: we most often learn that in the midst of pain and alienation, freedom can come.
In exile we say: “why me? it’s not fair”. (or at least, I do…) “I don’t understand the language, the weather is cold, the expectations are too high, I’m not recognised, the accent is weird, I got hurt, it’s not fair”, etc. I can be very indulgent when I want to. Which unfortunately can be way too often for my liking. Especially if I’m tired, or just overwhelmed with life and all it’s nuances.
I’ve been feeling rather ‘exiled’ about a few things lately… So this blog post is essentially a rebuke and a reminder to myself.
Because there’s a few things I’ve learnt over time. Sheer life experience, and observation brings a little insight:
- Some people will nurture that self-pity within you in exile. Old mindsets will agree, and spend time complaining together “nobody should have to live like this, you shouldn’t have to be there at that time, you’re better than this”… and quite frankly, I just don’t ‘need’ the sympathy. It let’s me camp places I shouldn’t be camping…
- The exile might actually be temporary. And as long as you think it’s not going to be forever, you won’t commit… there’s no point in developing a life of richness through faithful hard work if you won’t be here to enjoy the benefits is there? So rather be half-hearted, casual, a little irresponsible?
Why plant a garden? Backbreaking work and you’ll be gone before the harvest… Why learn the ways of the culture? You can get by with odd jobs and undemands… Why take on the disciplines of marriage and family? Why deal with your emotions on a particular subject/experience, when you can just push it aside and let it fester? Ouch. That’s me. Just make do with casual encounters until you ‘go home’, or things change, and THEN get serious….
But that doesn’t work. Because stuff does fester. And we’re not made to ‘just float’ through life.
I’m choosing to rather:
- build my house and live in it. No camping! I’m making myself at home. Digging foundations, constructing and build something, developing the best environment for living that I can. If all I do is minimal, and sitting around until I move on, my present life is empty and wasted. And life is as valuable here(wherever I am, and whatever I’m dealing with at the moment) as anywhere. So I’m chosing to live it!
- plant gardens and eat their produce. I want the productivity, and to be able to look after myself. Not expecting others to do it for me, but getting my hands into the soil, getting recipes(instructions) and making things…
- take partners and have children. The people around me are my equals with whom I can engage in responsible relationships. I can’t be ME while remaining aloof and distant. Sooo, developing trust and conversation, love and understanding, and SHARING life…
- take care of the city. In the welfare of this city is my welfare… so I’m throwing myself into it’s wellbeing…
The aim of life is not to be as comfortable as possible, but to live as deeply and thoroughly as possible. TRY IT. Make the best of it. Don’t drift along, waiting for better days… build, plant, work, play, believe, grow, do everything for the wholeness of this place.
The only place you have to be human is where you are right now. The only opportunity is in the circumstances you face today.
Make decisions to respond well.
There is much to risk, much to learn, much to endure, but that’s where the abundance of life is found… Kick ass. It’s what you’re born for. Get back to it babycakes.
Love, your wiser self.