On Leaving Home in Search of Another Home

It’s been three days since I left home and, although I feel that I belong to the road, I’m still nursing a broken heart that’s been wounded by infinite goodbyes. Since two weeks ago, I had been leisurely walking the streets of my hometown. I noticed the arrogant goldenness of the sun, the shy verdancy of the mango trees’ foliage, the sorrowful ashen cement jungle that’s the business district, and the iron-red hues of our house’s paint. From our rooftop, I stared at the fleeting clouds and spent the afternoons waving at airplanes while praying that the travelers they carried would have a safe and terrific journey.

I failed to perceive the deep emotions possessed by the colors of my immediate surrounding until the few weeks leading to my impending departure. I guess we are all busy in our own worlds or, perhaps, this is a natural reaction that occurs when someone is aware that he won’t see a glimpse of the familiar for an extended amount of time. I noticed that my mom was getting sadder by the hour. I observed that the irksome honking of public utility vehicles did not bother me anymore. I saw that my bedroom’s mint green had already faded over the years. But I had to leave. It was time to leave in search of another home.

But where is home, anyway?

Home is not just one place; it can be many places peppering the world we know. It can never be reduced to geographic proximity, either. Our forefathers used to be nomads. They built imaginary roads to cross, listened to the rhythms of nature, and escaped the frigid tundras in exchange for fertile lands. Somehow, we still carry that spirit of desiring to explore and discover, to move and live in accordance with our own individual pendulums, and to seek life in the face of deadly metaphors. Home is not just a feeling of comfort, it’s a state of personal resonance. If it’s a state of personal resonance, then it’s our responsibility to achieve it – to be more at home with ourselves and with who we are. I am grateful to have the best family in the world, but we all have personal pilgrimages to go on, and mine is to travel and be at home in the world.

It was painful to leave home but, at this stage in my life, the road made more sense than the office walls. I will certainly miss my family and friends, but the awareness that I have a loving family in Manila makes me feel loved and guided. I allowed myself to grieve – to go through the emotional whirlwind triggered by detachments, to explore the profundity of my loneliness and restlessness. There is so much irony in leaving. It’s excruciatingly painful. I felt drained of energy despite my excitement to live on the road. But I always remind myself how I might feel if I did not forego the pleasure of postponing a heavy suffering. When will I stop running away from my dreams? I figured the more we run away from our dreams, the further we run away from ourselves. I choose to travel to become more of who I am.

I began writing this post immediately after a dinner of steaming tom yum goong – the kind that has the intense fragrance of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, the cooling aromatic flavor of coriander sprigs, and the deep umami of shrimps. The soup base was fiery as hell that was why I loved every spoonful of it. I want to live a life that’s as aromatic as this soup – the kind of spiciness that does not hold back, that is brave and fiery but soothing to the soul bereft of emotions. Just as I was preparing to go to bed, the sky started to pummel the town with petulant rain, creating a symphony of raindrops to lull me to sleep.

I left home not because I hated it. Rather, I packed my bags because something stirred in me. No, something had been stirring in me for months. My decision was not merely emotional. It was profoundly spiritual, and to refuse to listen to it would be blasphemy. I don’t run after the practical. I chase what is relevant, impactful, and inspiring. I don’t worship the realistic. I pursue whatever my imagination can reach. I believe that, while knowledge is important, imagination can be our redemption.

My idea of home is that which reflects my values and priorities – freedom, creativity, learning, self-awareness, and purposeful living. Home is that which nurtures my penchant for spicy food, my convoluted affairs with the unknown, and my being drawn to long walks. It supports my dreams of eating slowly, walking slowly, and doing everything slowly to allow each experience to be an opportunity of witnessing miracles. It helps me encounter the divine in my solitary pursuits and notice those little creative victories that occur in the trenches of every day.

I’m on a quest to find a new home so that the people I love can find a home in me. I want to be a fountain of inspiration for people living on the edge of life – people who lost their sense of purpose when they lost their sense of home. Such lifeless life would be the saddest oxymoron. If I truly love the people around me, shouldn’t I offer them my best self – my passionate, loving, dreaming, bursting self?

So, dear, beautiful readers, let’s stop being passers-by in this planet replete with freedom, love, and life. Take a deep breath and engage yourselves more meaningfully with the world. Let’s have the courage to live beyond the confines of society’s conventions. We have only one life to live, so we had better live it on our own terms. 🙂

If you didn’t have to choose your hometown as your default home, where would you love to be? What’s your idea of home?

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8 Replies to “On Leaving Home in Search of Another Home”

  1. So it has officially started!!! Well done, Ryan!!! one question though…. did you cry in the airport when you left Manila?! I wanna know!!!! HAHAHAHAHA

    I love how you mentioned of how valuable your family are but there was a reality check of having your own personal goals that you need to chase after, countries that you need to travel to. And maybe it wasn’t an easy decision.. or was it?! lol’

    You have a talent for making your readers go through emotions. It’s as if you’re personally talking to me. Keep it up! Ryan. I’m a fan of your writing 🙂

    1. Leah, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. I didn’t expect anyone would feel the emotions that flowed through my pen, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive such compliment from you.

      I cried a bit when I left Manila, but I asked my family not to bring me to the airport as I feared I wouldn’t be able to handle it. It was perfect that my flight was early in the morning, so avoiding most people in the neighborhood was easy. Haha. Leaving my family was extremely hard, but there always are trade-offs in life. I’ll reunite with them in a year or two, so I should be fine. 🙂

  2. May you find as many wonderful homes as you want! And when you want to pause and take some rest you can always go back to us. Woohoo!

    1. Thank you, Kuya, for the support!!! Of course, I’ll be back. I wish to travel with you to more places. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this post, Rye! First of all, as you know, this topic of home is also important to me. My first ever paper as a philosophy major was about walking and dwelling. And that developed later on into a philosophy thesis on what nearness really means. In both cases, I learned that dwelling isn’t so much being rooted in a particular geographic place, nor is nearness just being physical closeness to something or someone. You can dwell while you are walking, actively doing something, or being in a foreign place. You can be near to close friends even if you’re physical away from there. (Of course, through your mindful travels, you don’t have to go through philosophy classes to get these realizations!)

    In all cases, I’ve (re)discovered something—it’s a re-discovery since I, and both of us, have instincts about this all along—that dwelling and nearness becomes less of geography and distance, and more of being mindful to the spaces around us, in the sense of recognizing and being attentive to the environment, to people, and to the everyday spaces we are in. And I’ve always marveled by how expansion of one’s world (perhaps through travel for you, and philosophy for me) allows one to explore and try out various homes (both physical and imaginative).

    In one of our conversations, I’ve mention that a tension that we humans have–being rooted versus being elsewhere. I think both can be versions of “home,” depending on us. All of us experience that tension at some point in our lives, and you have articulated one such particular situation. Whether we like it or not, accept it or not, our geographical origins do influence us in some ways. You cannot but go out there with your “social coordinates” (your family and friends, your environment growing up, your socio-economic background, your country of origin, etc.). In Heideggerian terms, you are “thrown” in a particular country and a particular place. These are contingent facts that you have no control of, at least in the beginning. However, I think you’ll agree with me that one should not resign to these facts. One can still, especially upon reaching adulthood, question, reconsider, and perhaps at the end choose whether to accept those various identities or not (be it one’s upbringing, religion, or even nationality).

    Recall our school anthem (I’m borrowing from Fr. Jett) —stand beneath earth and sky! Yes, there’ll always be tensions between one’s origins and one’s dreams and possibilities, between movement and stillness, between seeking a home and being at home. Keep the tension! Only where there is tension in the strings, there is music. Only when aeronautic scientists and engineers truly take into account the effects of gravity can they design and construct aircraft that can escape earth’s pull. Only when you are aware (painfully sometimes) where you came from can you spring upward or forward. Only when you recognize your origins can you embrace your destiny.

    As for my idea of “home,” you’ve already put it so eloquently and poetically:

    “Home is that which nurtures my penchant for spicy food, my convoluted affairs with the unknown, and my being drawn to long walks. It supports my dreams of eating slowly, walking slowly, and doing everything slowly to allow each experience to be an opportunity of witnessing miracles. It helps me encounter the divine in my solitary pursuits and notice those little creative victories that occur in the trenches of every day.” :))

    PS 1: You’re Pico Iyer in the making! I so see you delivering a TED talk also on “Where is home?”

    PS 2: I love that picture you have showing pine trees! In Sagada? I don’t have a personal pic, but I also enjoyed such view when I had my retreat in Baguio. I really felt “at home” then and there.

    1. I particularly love the first PS. Hahaha. Thank you very much, Ajep. To speak in front of an audience about a theme I am strongly drawn to is a dream of mine, so I pray that your words come true. 😀

      Tension! Yes! I have just discussed this with Lucky this morning, that struggle is a vital element in a life well-lived. Without tension, we wouldn’t know which direction to go to. It’s tension that keeps our lives balanced. Extroversion requires introversion. Silence must be complemented with noise. Exercise must be coupled with rest. There’s time for everything! 🙂

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