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?