One of the hardest things about travelling for (in my case inadvertently) years on end, is that you get to a point where you start to long for home no matter where you are – although it gets exceedingly difficult to say where exactly home actually is. A backpack that you used to live out of as you traveled endlessly from one new place to the next? An oceanside apartment on a tropical island where you taught scuba diving? Dharamsala, where your days were spent in philosophical conversation in various hippie laden cafés and restaurants, with an occasional classroom full of Tibetan refugees thrown in for good measure? Back in Toronto where you and all your friends are continually bouncing around from one creative project to the next? The list could continue…
Every few months I suddenly get hit with an overwhelming longing to be in about 10 different places simultaneously. So many little fragments of my soul that I’ve left scattered behind in so many strange little corners of the globe start to call out to me all at once. So many places where I struck out on a new path, environments that I used to change who I am, modes of existence that seem to have worked their way into the fabric of my being in some way or another.
A Tibetan Buddhist stupa in Kathmandu
I remember the exact moment I first felt this sensation. I was in a wide open area, soon to be a new housing development, in Kathmandu between the central city and a Tibetan district that I was walking towards. It was a quiet spot. Anywhere would have been a quiet spot after months of the relentless bustle of India though maybe! I’d sunk into a bit of a reflective mood over the course my afternoon walk, and the sound of an airplane flying overhead called me to question the reality of my situation.
Here I was, wandering around with perfect familiarity, in some well distant spot on the complete other side of the world from where I’d spent the rest of my life. Or was it the rest of my life that was now so far away behind me? If I were on that plane, how many different heartbreakingly familiar places could I find myself in within just a day? Ever since that moment, that feeling has never really been too far away. No matter where I make a home for myself, there’s always another one off in the distance somewhere whose absence I can feel.
For a short while though I thought I had it – somewhere that I did feel like I had roots. I’d found it in the form of a person with whom, no matter where I was and what I was doing, I always seemed to be in the place where I needed to be – even if that wasn’t the easiest place to be at times. But like every other thing in my life in past years, it was all too soon before I found myself adrift again, leaving yet another destination behind and wondering if somewhere in my future lies somewhere that I can happily settle into.
George Harrison (or was it Lao Tsu) was certainly onto something when he said “The farther one travels, the less one knows”.
The rooftop view from my new apartment in Busan, South Korea
Half a year later, I’m still picking up the pieces, and have been creating a new little home for myself here in Busan, South Korea where I’m teaching English at a high school and looking for the next thing to get off the ground. I’m loving the mountains scattered everywhere throughout the city, the beaches so close by, the great food and drink, the cinema centre, and most recently and particularly the live theatre scene that I’ve become involved with. But more of that soon! And enough of this seriousness! Stay tuned for more tales of creative projects, life in Korea, flashbacks to past travels, and whatever other thoughts decide to rear their ugly head.
If you’re interested in any tales of my past endeavours, check out my previous blog chronicling my early travels after university as part of a bid to become an extra in The Hobbit at: hobbitdoc.blogspot.com.