3-year quest to find the sense of true belonging.
so, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both.
— “Diaspora Blues” by Ijeoma Umebinyuo
The first time I saw that excerpt, it hit me like a rock. Over the past 10 years, I have moved 13 times (5 cities, 2 countries). It’s not considered a lot for my generation, but enough to rob me of the sense of true belonging.
I feel like floating on the water most of the time, nothing is attached or rooted.
Every morning, after I first wake up, my head processes for five seconds on figuring out where I am, geographically, to adjust myself back to reality. I thought I could get used to this unsettled feeling, yet it gets worse as time goes by. It gets to the point that I’m often torn between “everything matters” and “nothing matters.” No matter how much invested I am in anything, I can instantly drop them all together without a second thought or a trace of regret.
As I get older, I spend my time more selectively. I try to do what and be with whom bring values and meanings to my life (I try). And I don't half-ass do anything, giving it a project or a relationship. That high intensity keeps me focused. It makes me feel alive and purposeful. But then, the disconnection with my true belonging often tips me off my balance. The fact that life is impermanent and I have no attachments make everything so meaningful in one second yet so meaningless in the next one. The busier I get, the more apparent this tension becomes.
I find myself in the “flow” state and also at the observation seat, watching my life fleeting by. Being so sensitive to changes, I frequently observe and study my existence. Sometimes I live out every moment, other times I only watch it on a TV screen.
So how can I make the next second not meaningless?
For a long time, I tried to solve that internal issue with external matters. I cultivated quality relationships, built my own community, chose exciting (both personal and professional) projects to work on, practiced mindfulness, got comfortable with solitude and vulnerability, exposed myself to new knowledge and followed my curiosity.
All, subconsciously, were to distract myself from that void. Well, let me rephrase it, all of those would not make much sense until I found where or what I could truly belong to.
What does it feel like to “be home”?
Some people say it’s the people that make the place feel like home, some say it’s the memories. It is where you are surrounded by whoever or whatever means the most to you. Others define it as a place you can be your true self, a safe and loving haven. If you stay at one place long enough, get more familiar, build your own family and community, you will feel more like home.
None of those answers could really satisfy me. It has to be much more than that. Having learned to let go so many times has taught me one profound lesson, I can never depend upon external things to manifest a sustainable place of deep healing and peace. So it somehow has to come from within.
…it became clear that [true belonging]’s not something we achieve or accomplish with others; it's something we carry in our heart. — Brené Brown
I had to be in the most unfamiliar place to find the most intimate matter, my true belonging.
Desperately trying to find the answer, I read so many books and articles, listened to Podcasts and TED talks (I watched “Where is home?” by Pico Iyer five times). I even tried to contemplate on Thich Nhat Hanh’s shortest Dharma Talk, “I have arrived, I am home”. But somehow I still couldn't grasp the gist of all the teachings.
Then in a restroom stall at Chiayi HSR station in Taiwan, the answer unexpectedly came to me.
The moment it happened (let me try my best to describe it), I saw a “visible” sound-wave quickly rippling out from the center of what in front of my eyes (which was my backpack hung on the stall’s door). After that, everything came to sight much clearer, as if someone just lifted the veil over my face.
I finally experienced “be home.”
All thoughts and emotions were detached. All noises were silenced. Time seemed to stretch out to a thousand miles. I was fully with myself, fully in the present. And there's something SO peaceful and transcendent emerging from the inside of my body then melting into the blue sky and warm air. It's not so much about where I came from or were about to head to, but where I was. Everything was light and complete.
It's not really a revelation that turned my world upside down or transformed me into an awakened one. I also can't come “home” anytime I want, but it's more accessible now.
But whatever awaits, at least I found “home,” and somehow know how to return to it.
I hope you find yours too 😉
p/s 1: I encourage everyone to experience solo travel. It’s extremely hard to feel lonely when you travel alone.
p/s 2: This blog is the kind of if-I-don’t-post-it-now,-I-post-it-never, so it’s been buried in my drafts for almost two months.
Also, a lot of mind transformation has happened since then. The “home” I have found recently is much more permanent and magical than the one I talked about in this blog.
But it’s still a phase of my journey, so I hope to share it out to let anyone who’s going through the same thing know that you’re not alone. Keep seeking and one day when the student is ready, a wise teacher will appear and take care of the rest. 😉 jk you do it yourself!