On Being at Home in the World
At the start of a nomadic year ~ a small, but distinct voice in my mind offered up a phrase that had haunted me long before I began to travel, & became the theme for my world travels. In truth, this phrase haunts me still. I can’t let it go, because something about it resonates with me so strongly. What is this phrase….this idea?
Simply: it’s to feel comfortable being at home in the world ~ no matter where I am.
Really, this an idea, more than a phrase; it’s a way of being in the world. From the Andes of Peru, to the streets of Cartagena, to the islands of Ecuador: no matter where I happened to find myself: that would be home. Whether for a day, a month, a week ~ it didn’t matter. It was more the feeling I wanted to create within myself. To look at a place less as a foreign environment, & more as my home. A home where I am not the “other” ~ but a place where I am accepted, & a part of (even when it does not at first appear that way).
On Being at Home in the World
At first, this may sound like a simple thing: to be at home anywhere you go. But I dare you: try it. It’s not as easy as it sounds. And the result of “feeling at home in the world” actually has quite large implications.
Here are a few of those:
- If everywhere is home, then I am safe everywhere ~ because at home, I feel safe & secure. So if everywhere is home, than I am safe & secure everywhere I go, & I bring that feeling with me, wherever I go.
- If everywhere is home, then I bring a sense of peace & self-assurance with me, wherever I go.
- If everywhere is home, then that means I must learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. For surely, in life & in travel, I’ll be confronted with new, potentially uncomfortable situations everywhere I go. I can either choose to fight this fact ~ or I can choose to embrace this inevitable discomfort, knowing it will bring growth. Thus, I must say “yes” to feeling sad, anxious, out-of-sorts, angry, alone, elated, rejected, joyous, disappointed, happy, & ecstatic ~ because ALL these emotions are part of the human experience. To fight them is to fight growth. And the point of travel is nothing if not growth. Therefore, I feel at home even when I’m uncomfortable, for I know it will lead to growth.
- If everywhere is home, then I must be at home in a state of constant change, as all new environments cause me to reflect, adapt, & even re-invent myself a bit. I must feel at home being flexible, in order to absorb & understand my new environments. To travel is to realize that change is a constant in life, & that to fight it is a misuse of energy. Instead, I must feel at home being fluid & adaptable to my ever-changing environments.
- If everywhere is home, then that means I can calm myself during stressful situations, by using the power of my mind to accept the current situation. If everywhere is home, then I can get to a calm place in my mind anywhere I am, simply by choosing to relax into the situation & observe my surroundings, instead of choosing fear or judgment.
- If everywhere is home, then I realize I’m in greater control of ~ not necessarily my circumstances, but my reaction to those circumstances. And it all begins in my own mind.
- If everywhere is home, then I can find & make new friends easily, anywhere I go.
- If everywhere is home, then I must treat everywhere I go as if it is my home, showing respect for the land, for the language, & for that country’s customs.
Feeling at Home in Cusco, Peru
Now that I’ve explained this concept in a little more detail, let me explain how I used it during my travels.
I spent almost two months in & around Cusco in early 2016. During that time, the famous Peruvian city became my temporary home ~ my base for exploring the Andes. When I first arrived, I was with a friend. We hiked Machu Picchu together & explored the surrounding area. When she left, I found myself alone in Peru as an American blonde, not knowing how to speak Spanish ~ & I found that I didn’t exactly feel at home. Not right away, anyway. What I needed to do was to re-acclimate myself to this place.
But without the comfort of my like-minded, American friend.
So, here’s what happened: while walking down smooth, cobble-stoned Cusco streets, feeling a bit more like a foreigner than I wanted, this phrase somehow wandered into my head: “Right now, Cusco, is your home. I am home. I am safe.”
Something happened to my heartbeat when I heard those words: it immediately became calmer. My breath got a little deeper. I felt my whole body become calm. I held myself taller, & felt better able to observe my surroundings. I noticed more of what was going on around me, & went from feeling like, “I’m an outsider,” to, “I belong here.” I began to smile more. I began to observe the people around me with greater ease.
How did they behave? What made them laugh? I started having more interactions with the people around me.
I found myself looking up at the sky more, noticing the mountains, & how they surrounded the town in a protective, almost sheltering kind of way. I began, more & more, to feel at home. I began to feel at home in a land that had once seemed entirely foreign and strange to me. I felt more at peace: with this new place, with myself. And I wondered what kinds of curious things this place had to teach me.
I began to feel at home in a land that had once seemed entirely foreign & strange to me.
On Being at Home in the World
When we’re a tourist, we are ever the “outsider.” We don’t really belong in that place, it seems. We are different, by nature ~ & therefore, have trouble understanding.
Or so we have been told.
But I don’t fully believe that to be true. I believe that by reading, observing, being curious ~ by walking, trekking, noticing, absorbing, & mostly, by talking to people of that country, & of that culture ~ we can understand not everything, but more than we did before. We are a witness now, to another culture. We may have friends now, from that new place. And though we may never fully understand what it’s like to be someone other than ourselves, perhaps we can begin to understand that “foreign” refers to customs & languages & nuances: but it does not necessarily apply to the hearts of people.
If the entire world is our home, then in fact, this must be so.
As Wayne Dyer says: “If God is everywhere, then there is nowhere that he is not.”
If God is everywhere, then there is no country, no city, no place where God is not. Or, replace the word “God” with the word, “love.” There is no country, no city, no place where love does not exist. It is impossible.
Therefore, we can feel safe anywhere. We can make new friends anywhere. We can explore new paths, climb mountains, & discover new territories everywhere.
For the world is our home.
Read Next: Why Cusco is One of My Favorite Cities in the World