On Homecoming

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are pleased to inform you that we have arrived at our destination. Currently, the weather is (freaking) hot. There is no sign of rain, though there’s quite a lot of haze. And mosquitoes. We mustn’t forget the mosquitoes. 

Passengers in transit, do feel free to remain on board as you discern your next flight. We have certainly enjoyed having you on board with us, and we hope to see you again. Thank you for flying with Leaven of God.

To the loggers (both new and old), welcome. Welcome home.

So 7 weeks has come and gone. The sojourn has ended.

Some people come back from holidays refreshed and wistful that the holiday has passed. They wished it could have been longer. They are reluctant to go home.

I’m not one of those people.

The paradox of my wanderlust is this: that once I’m in the midst of traveling, I usually wish to go home – to my books & movies, to my room and bed, to my loved ones.

So after these 7 weeks, I find myself not really knowing what to make of Sojourn. Sure, we experienced new things, met new people, gained new insights. But somehow, I’m not really awestruck in the way I expected to be.

But maybe, that’s somewhat the nature of all sojourns. Things never are really epic as they seem to be, or never quite perfect as we envision them to be. There are always turbulences, tensions and tiredness.

I won’t say I was eager for Sojourn to end. But now that it has, I feel the relief flooding – not just because Sojourn went rather smoothly, but because we are once again where we belong. It’s the comfort of the familiar, the warmth of safety. We stepped out into the stormy seas; we’re back in safe haven again.

The great virtue of travel is a receptive mindset – the “approach[ing] of new places with humility” (Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel). For homesick people like me, this virtue extends beyond our travels to our homecoming too. Because it is precisely the time spent away from home that makes me re-appreciate its warmth, re-discover its joys, renew its relationships. It is precisely the travel that lifts the veil of dreariness and settled expectations of the home.

It comes as no surprise then that this week found me catching up with Jes and Jess – ado on Wed with the former, dinner on Thurs with the latter. Both these meetups were delightful reminders that joy, hope and wonder are not only found in new places and new people, they can also be found in the people in our lives right now.

So beyond familiarity, there is also perhaps a breath of freshness, now that we’re back to normal sessions. Yes, it is about new people (Hello there, Nicole & Paul :D); but it is also about noticing what we have already seen.

—————

Then, quite a bit later, there will come a time when we’ll look back at the happy snapshots, and let the rosy-tinted lenses of memory reminisce about the excitement and allure of reaching out to the novel and the unfamiliar. Then, perhaps, our wanderlust will arise again in our hearts. Then, perhaps, we’ll head out on another sojourn.

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