All of Life is Foreign Country — Jack Kerouac
My soul is from elsewhere, I am sure of that and I intend to end up there — Jalaluddin Rumi
Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground — Judith Thurman
I have been on the road all my life. I call the suitcase my wardrobe and the trains, planes and cars I have travelled in my temporary accommodation. So, it did not surprise me when a close friend once asked me : “isn’t it time you bought a house of your own?” He then smiled and answered his own question by asking another question: you don’t have any roots, do you?
I was speechless with fear because he was right. Like the water that conforms to the vessel it is in, I have been at home in many cultures. Along the way, I have known only two types of humans : good and bad.
My friend then described his home as a fireplace that is always lit on a cold winter night and a tree that always gives shade in the summer. He asked me to imagine a pet that shakes off the wetness off its fur as it runs lovingly towards its owner and a roof that protects the body from getting wet.
It was surprising to him when I said every home I have been to has provided me the memories he makes in his own home. Every friend who has smiled and welcomed me home gave me the warmth of the fireplace.
Every elderly person who held my hand and taught me to walk when I was down gave me the shade of a large banyan tree.
Every animal I have been kind to and petted made me its owner. Not out of any intellectual superiority but by the universal feeling of love.
The meals I have shared with workers on the shop floor, with teachers in the cafeteria and with colleagues in restaurants have reminded me that people are the same everywhere and that a smile can light them up just like the sun does the earth.
I have been an outsider and an alien all my life. Alien to new experiences and to new people I have met. At the end of the close encounter though, I became human again. It does not take a lot to transform. The secret lies in empathy and unconditional giving.
Think about it. What if you were unencumbered by your memories? The burden of color, race, education, religion and every other division the human mind can conceive stripped off your consciousness. Perhaps, regrettable. Extremely liberating. It’s true that a present without a past is a tree without roots but:
…to not belong is to belong to humanity.
I have wandered, somewhat aimlessly, across the world to discover that my home is not a stationary abode but rather the momentary resting place I built in every heart I touched lovingly on my journey. Think about it: when all else is done, the only place you remain alive is in the hearts of the people who breathed easier because you lived. Be an alien to the world, live in memories but become human again. Godspeed.