7 February 2015

Where the heart is

Chill out Mum.


I only get occasional pangs of loneliness and melancholy and they usually dissipate as quickly as they arrive.

But thank you for your concern.

I have many friends here in the island and yes – whilst some of them may be the English - there are actually some good English among the masses.

Some very good ones indeed.

Never tell them I said that though – they might get cocky.

It was very nice for you to tell me that I am welcome home any time I want.

I already knew that.

But I haven’t been there for a long time and I have learned to cope OK doing all the things you used to do for me.

I have all growed up.

I wash and cook and sometimes exercise - although I still won’t iron.

I don’t like it.

It is an abomination.

I have a very nice helper called Amore who does my ironing for me though. She comes in once a week and she looks after me domestically very well.

She is very kind.

I try and be kind and tolerant and think of others who are much worse of than me. You and Dad taught me that well and I always remember how you raised us kids. When things sometimes get a bit dark I can close my eyes and think of what valuable life lessons you as parents gave we kids. You showed us by example the importance of being earnest and truthful and explained through your actions things like sympathy and empathy and compassion.

Compassion most of all.

You reminded us that we would fail a lot and we have. 


Me in particular.

I have failed heaps.

I fall down a lot and I have eventually learned it is the getting back up that is the most important thing.

My life is littered with mistakes but I know I can't change the past.

The past is never where I thought I left it anyway.

You drew our moral compasses for us and when we drifted – as we often did – you always seemed to bring us back.

I value these lessons more than anything else.

They were life lessons.

Sometimes harsh lessons but always love lessons.

Dad is my hero.

He always has been.

He always will be.

Don’t forget either Mum I chose my life of solidarity and being a nomad.

I quite like it most of the time and you know how restless I get.

Then I get bored.


I sometimes threaten to set fuckers on fire.

You didn’t teach me that but it comes in handy.

And I never actually have.

Or would.

Set any one on fire.

Yes I do know Mum that my home will always be back there in Australia. Not with you and Dad of course but it is a place that I know is comforting and familiar – but it isn’t what I remember.

There is so much bigotry and violence and ignorance there that I’m not sure if I could adjust.

And I have not lived there for such a long time.

I found a place recently where I think I will wind down when I am ready.

You’d like it.

It’s a rooftop on what is an old carpet factory in a place called Bouddhanath in the city of Kathmandu. It will soon be a school for some pretty special children from far away Tibet - and I can almost see myself up there watching the sun rise and set on a mountain called Himalaya Ganesh - while the sound of little children’s laughter fills my heart with peace and joy and satisfaction.

I will sip on Masala tea and try and teach the kids some of what you taught me -although I suspect that they will teach me a lot too.

They already have.

I would like for them to understand that success isn’t anything at all to do with position or power or money but it is a sense of belonging and being.

It is giving and sharing and caring.

I think it really is that simple.

You get that don’t you?

Of course you do.

You taught me that yourself.

But I do miss traveling back to see you and the rest of my friends and family and I wont stop doing that - but for now my home is still here in Singapore.

I have things I have to do and here is as convenient as anywhere.

Yes I do miss those wide open spaces where you are.

I sometimes ache and yearn for them.

I sometimes weep for them.

Singapore is such a small island.

It sometimes constrains me and I often feel suffocated here.

But I get by.

I always do.

Home is a nice word and it's a nice place. To me it conjures up a sense of warmth and familiarity and comfort.

They say it's where your heart is.

I'm not so sure about that.

Who are these 'They' anyway and what do they know of my heart?

I will continue to travel a lot and I will always be on the move.

Whilst I live as a stranger in a strange land I accept now completely what an odd little world it is.

What a small place it is too.

Where I reside now - here in Singapore - is in a tiny little apartment.

I do every so often feel it is filled with nothing but myself - and it sometimes feel heavy. It feels empty and full at the same time.

Weird huh?

Occasionally it feels crushing even though there is this emptiness.

But I get by.

I often contemplate whether home is a place or people or is it just a feeling?

Is home an urge?

Is it a desire?

An emotion?

Perhaps it is not in fact a place.

It might simply be an irrevocable condition.

A state of mind.

I think my home is maybe just somewhere that my habits have a habitat. 

It is a place of acceptance.

I am sure that the occasional ache for home lives in all of us and particularly in all of we roaming expatriates.

We lost ones.

It is maybe that safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned and not be challenged.

Home might just be a sort of a security blanket.

A comfort zone.

Home could just be where somebody notices when you were no longer there. 

When I left my home so long ago and I wandered far afield - I often thought, ‘I want to go home.’

But then I go home and of course it’s not the same.

I can’t live with it and I can’t live away from it.

There lies the conundrum.

There is always this yearning for some place that doesn’t exist.

I feel this all the time.

I am never completely at home anywhere anymore – but being in Nepal is something close. 

It is getting closer.

What I notice the most when I return to the home that is Australia - after not being there for a while - is how much the trees have grown around my memories.

They tangle them.

I guess in this life's journey we actually come and go from many homes.

We may leave a house, a city, or even a room, but that doesn't mean that those places leave us. Perhaps we never entirely depart the homes we make for ourselves in the world.

I think they follow us.

Like shadows.

Until we stumble upon them again.

They lay in wait for us in the mist.

We people adapt though.

We change.

We inevitably grow where we are planted and then we uproot and plant ourselves again. 

Pulvis et umbra sumus

We are but dust and shadows.

And I get by.

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