“Why do people move? What makes them uproot and leave everything they’ve known for a great unknown beyond the horizon? Why climb this Mount Everest of formalities that make you feel like a beggar? Why enter into this jungle of foreigness where everything is new, strange and difficult?
The answer is the same the world over: people move in the hope of a better life.”
“But all night he dreamed of his own house and wandered in his sleep into all his different rooms looking for something that he could not find, nor remember what it looked like.”
Right now I’m making my way through the forever-favorite book, The Hobbit. I know, I know, all the rest of you read it in 7th grade when you were sporting rainbow braces, but I was off busy doing something else, and never had the chance. With the movies coming out, though, I decided to make it my book for the summer (one of a few).
Obviously it isn’t summer anymore. So I guess I didn’t quite make my deadline…but I’m still determined to finish the book, and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision.
One of my favorite things about J.R.R Tolkein is that, when he writes, he doesn’t romanticize the struggles of the adventures (which, personally, I think kind of makes it more romanticized, in a way). Throughout The Hobbit, again and again and again, he writes that Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit longing for home. No matter where he is, how good or bad things seem to be going; he remembers the tranquility of his hobbit hole and longs for it.
I don’t know about you guys, but I often find myself reading books that seem to coincide exactly with the kind of encouragement that I need. Or maybe, I find the encouragement in the books I read, because I need it.
Regardless, if there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that: I love adventures. I love living them, I love writing them and I love hearing stories about them. I love holding my breath while watching adventure movies, getting caught up in narratives and being on the edge of my seat – eyes wide and ready for the grand conclusion.
This hasn’t changed from when I was a kid and I’d spend weeks reading stacks of books about people who took their circumstances and turned them into stories worthy of being passed down through generations. That’s what I wanted then, and what I live for now. I want my life to be a story I can read back to my children; something that will have them on the edge of their seats, anticipating the part when mom _________________ (fill in the blank).
Adventures aren’t just something I think are necessary, but essential for my life. I need to travel, explore and see new things. I need to have my breath taken away by landscapes and oceans, to meet incredible people and take my place among the millions of experiences the world has to offer.
But the perspective of an adventure can be pretty different when you’re in the middle of it vs. when you’re hearing it second hand. Hungry wolves chasing after you might sound exciting from the security of your living room, but while you’re actually running from them– breath staggering, panic stricken eyes wild with fear, it’s probably not quite the same feeling (although, I’ve never been chased by wolves, so correct me if I’m wrong).
As humans, it’s in our nature to romanticize the past. We tell embellished stories (especially in my family) of what happened, who was there and how many obstacles there were; a foot long puddle turns into a raging river, a 10-inch trout becomes a 60-foot whale.
The stories get passed down from one person to another and then to another and another, until nobody even knows, for sure, what the facts are. As the details trickle down, from one person to the next, details get lost and scrambled in translation – especially emotions such as fear or uncertainty; finally, we’re left simply with the grand tales of bravery – unaware that the hero or heroine was having panic attacks before they made their brave, life altering, world saving decision.
I know personally, when I look back, I have a habit of romanticizing my past.
Somehow things always seem better when they’re not in the present. Life seems so much more exciting in the future; so much more secure and certain in the past. But if I’m honest, I realize that just isn’t the case.
Right now, I’m struggling with a Bilbo Baggins mentality.
Maybe I don’t live in Middle Earth, but I would consider my life an adventure right now. I’m in a strange place, with a strange culture and language surrounding me. I have no idea what the next year of my life will entail. But, all in all, life is pretty great right now.
So why am I still longing for the past?
I love the family I’m working with, I couldn’t have asked for a better match in personalities, tastes, hobbies and general atmosphere.
BUT…here it comes: I’m homesick.
I don’t really want to admit it, because I thought maybe I would miraculously overcome nostalgia (and I did for about month) but this week the homesickness has been hitting pretty hard.
It’s not saying that I don’t love the adventure that I’m on. I’m making awesome friends, getting to try new experiences and generally loving life – but there’s still a part of me longing for my hobbit hole (aka Seattle).
I miss friends, I miss my routine, I miss my bike, being able to call people up to go watch the sunset at Golden Gardens, or to WOW to drink bubble tea; I miss speaking and hearing English, and I miss being able to effortlessly talk to random people when I go out.
It’s expected and normal for us to want what we had before, whether it was bad or good, it was known. And who wouldn’t want to be somewhere they know over somewhere uncertain?
But right now, I’m reminding myself of the beauty in learning to love something I’m uncomfortable with. And let me tell you – sometimes it is VERY UNCOMFORTABLE to be living in a country that is so different.
But that’s part of the adventure, right!?
I’m so thankful for all of you who have encouraged me, sent me mail (which seriously makes my week) and have generally uplifted me during this transition. I feel so lucky to have such an amazing community around me, and I’m excited for what’s up and coming in my life – even if it means missing my city a little in the meantime.
Seattle will always have my heart. And striking out into the unknown can be extremely intimidating at times. But I’m learning to accept the fact that even the greatest heroes and heroines sometimes find themselves longing for home.