Coming home after a long trip around the world has its challenges. You have changed so much – but have the people around you? I want to share two different approaches to homecoming with you. The first one I wrote in 2017 after travelling for 17 months in Asia and Australia. The second one I wrote now coming home from my 10 months Latin America trip. There is a small but impactful difference – but read for yourself.
After being away from home for 17 months, everything is different. Or is it exactly the same? The truth is nothing at home ever really changes. Your room still looks the same (except for a little dust), the neighbours are still gossiping and your family is still a prisoner to their daily routine. At home, life seems to stop evolving. When you wake up in the morning, you know exactly what’s going to happen today. The painful urge to travel – Fernweh – comes back. You start worrying about the future again, although you swore to yourself you wanted to keep living free as you did back in Bali.
Let’s think 2 months back. When every day was an exciting adventure, every day you packed your bag and travelled into a new unknown place with new exciting faces. There were things to do every single day, new paths to discover, culture to explore and street food to taste. Every morning, when you got up, you had the feeling of excitement about the unknown, the urge to explore all there is in this beautiful country you are in.
Back home. Of course, it is amazing to meet all your friends, to go out, have long talks and share stories. But then their mind also seems to revolve only around their own small universe. All the extraordinary and big thoughts in your head don’t fit with your friend’s thoughts of the new lover or upcoming exam. You want to talk about philosophy, the breath-taking things you’ve seen, the way other people think and live in such a different way. But your friend cannot join you in that talk.
It’s not home that has changed, it’s you. Nothing will be the same. You get the urge to pack your bags and take the next flight away from here. But let me tell you, it isn’t all bad. When I learned one thing, it is that you should take the excitement and adventure and insert it into your daily life. The hardest part of every journey is to start it, and life consists of many different journeys. So, start your next one by using these amazing experiences to create an even more exciting future for yourself!
Familiar yet strange faces.
Yes, we do look more alike
But no, I feel very different.
Stepping back into a culture ruled by looks and status,
Phones seem so much more important here.
Order, quality, abundance, tight, clean, lost.
Their minds busy in worlds far away from this one
Not seeing each other,
Not seeing themselves,
Their hearts protected by thick walls
In fear of loneliness and pain,
Drowning their longing in possessions.
But I can see the light in each one of you
I want to scream at you
WE ARE ALL ONE!
Don’t be afraid to feel.
I remember this feeling well. Coming home after months of travelling, seeing new countries and meeting new people each day. The bitterness of the familiar. Yes, people are different here. Their life is evolving around other priorities. Yet something in me has changed. I don’t only see slaves trapped in their own minds anymore, I see the LIGHT in each one of them. They are all beautiful and doing their best to live a happy life. In the end, we are all graving for love. And personally, I don’t see myself as being a lost soul in this foreign world anymore. Now, I have trust. Trust that life is happening each second as it should, trust in my own capabilities, trust in the goodness of humanity.
Coming back is rediscovering your roots, reuniting with loved ones and testing your spiritual development. Ram Dass, a powerful spiritual teacher once said:
“If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”
And hell that is so true. Your parents are the people that gave you life, raised you and shaped your path. They had and always will have a huge influence on you, whether you like it or not. Once you are in their presence, they are able to press those buttons no one else even knows about, triggering old tendencies and feelings. That’s why coming home is a big but wonderful challenge on your path.
Now you can prove that something inside you has changed. But there also lies a danger because surely you want to tell them all you have learnt, show them all the beautiful discoveries you made and make them understand what moved your heart. But behold, my friend. You have to know that each person on this planet is on their own path, moving at their own pace. And your parents or friends may not be where you are at, so they either won’t understand or won’t want to really listen to what you want to share so badly.
And then there is the spiritual ego. That tricky little thing that wants to show how deep, meaningful and extraordinary all those experiences were and how much different from all the “normal” people you are now. It wants to educate others not out of a selfless, higher reason but to make itself feel superior. I am also still encountering this part of me. Even if it is born out of the intention of wanting to improve people’s lives, having all this knowledge and therefore “power”, is a responsibility and not an advantage. One has to find the right way of sharing and spreading this beautiful knowledge. Fact is, you cannot force it on anyone. The best thing to do is like Mahatma Gandhi said: “BE THE CHANGE.”
A phrase often used but rarely understood. What does it really mean? It means that sometimes it is just better to just be quiet. To silence yourself when your mind just wants to defend, educate and reason. To really listen to the other, to give all your attention to them. Even if you realise that their worries are unnecessary, their thoughts are turning negative and their heart is being ignored, just listen. Don’t try and change their mind, don’t tell them what you think would be better to do, think or feel. In the Yoga course I took in Mexico, I learnt one very important thing:
If you were that person with that past, consciousness and path, you would think, act and feel exactly the same way.
Everyone is where they need to be. And of course, you can inspire people, give them helpful advice and share beautiful knowledge – but from a place of heart, not ego. If they ask you, answer. If your heart gives you an impulse to share something, do it. People that want to hear, will listen. But most importantly, focus on yourself. Work on being a better you every day, challenge your beliefs, question your thoughts, embrace your feelings, open to whatever comes your way. Reflect. And with your presence alone, you will impact people’s lives far more than you can imagine. Then they will start asking questions, questioning their old ways and seeking new challenges outside their comfort zone. I have seen it happening all around me, and this is the most wondrous way we can share.
1) Keep Looking Forward
After 1-2 weeks of being home, reuniting with family and friends, normality and daily life will come back. You will miss the excitement, adventure and newness of everyday travel life. Don’t fall back into your old patterns, keep all those ideas and experiences fresh in your mind and use them to shape your future new. Don’t look backwards, always ahead. Life happens right now, and all those beautiful experiences are impacting your life TODAY.
2) Take every challenge with a smile
Daily life will come back to you. Bureaucracy, the weather, politics, other’s opinions will annoy you. People will judge your life decisions. Your parents will trigger those old patterns. Be aware when these things happen and take it as a challenge and opportunity to grow. And most importantly, SMILE. A smile will make everything easier, lighter and more beautiful (especially your face).
3) Be the Change
Don’t try and change others, don’t force any knowledge or opinions on people you encounter. JUST BE. Be present and live from your heart, really embodying all you have learnt on your travels. Choose to be silent when your ego wants to defend itself. Listen to others with an open heart and accept everyone’s path. Be an example rather than a teacher, and the change will happen around you all by itself.
Thank you for appreciating my art!