Laying the Groundwork

Sometimes it’s necessary to step away.  Far away.  Away from the eyes of social media and the need to engage with people on a constant, consistent basis.  Away from the need to be validated for every post, every photo, every moment of a life.

For the last two months, I have chosen to be inconsistent. Inconsistent with updating my website, inconsistent with posts, inconsistent with where I am.

Where I am.

Where am I?

Where have I been?

In Kenya.

In the place where my roots still run deep in the earth, where stepping into my grandmother’s garden is stepping into history. Where my grandfather’s name still floats around the house, like an unspoken whisper. Where the dog sleeps under my grandmother’s chair as she sings hymns. Where my ancestors lived in the same town. On the same street.

I went home.

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I went home to ask myself where home is. What home means. Why I don’t feel at home when I’m back in Canada, in the place where I was born. In the place where I work, create, socialize, engage.

Maybe it’s because this ‘home’ can also mean complicity, comfort beyond comfort and stagnancy instead of stability. Maybe because this ‘home’ is a place where old habits return and new routines fade away. Maybe it’s because this ‘home’ is a place where I have to hustle to make a living, where my value and salary don’t match up. Maybe because this ‘home’ feels isolating. Alienating. Unwholesome.

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful. I am grateful to be in a place where my community is fighting to become more inclusive, where allyship and intersectionality are in practice (at least in some spaces). I’m grateful to be in a place where I can get anything, anytime, anywhere.

ANYTHING.

But…

Is it too much? Is it not enough?

Is it not enough heart? wholeness? “home”ness?

The thing about not having everything available is that you become accustomed to be grateful for what you have. You create routine out of what others may consider to be monotony, or ‘lack’. You find your place as a part of something bigger than yourself, as opposed to making yourself bigger than everything around you. You are a piece in a puzzle. You are not puzzled.

In my mother’s hometown, I found routine. The routine of not caring what I looked like because I was so ready to get out into nature, into the garden. To hear the white-browed robin-chat singing, to watch speckled mousebirds eat pomegranate seeds from our tree, to capture the light of the sun piercing through a morning glory. To stand in the middle of the rainforest and know that I know nothing and it’s a glorious feeling. To savour, and finish, a cup of  piping hot tea (I can’t tell you how many cups of tea have gotten cold from my distractions back in Canada).

My routine was simple. Wholesome. Meaningful.

Make art. Document it. Nourish your body. Spend time with family.

Listen. Sit. Run with the dogs.

Eat at mealtimes. Eat on a table. Eat without distractions.

Let the earth provide you with every leaf, flower and seed you need to create a mandala.

Do your prostrations every morning. Light rose incense. Recite the Four Immeasurables.

Put your goddamned phone away. Seriously.

Don’t panic when the internet doesn’t work in your room.

Learn how to live without connection. To be connected.

To reconnect.

And so, here I am, back ‘home’, trying to adopt this way of life. This way of life, in a place where I can’t see trees from my window. Where the birds are further north. Where people (literally) RUN out of the GO train at the end of the day so-they-can-get-in-their-cars-before-anyone-else-so-they-can-avoid-traffic-so-they-can-get-home-so-they-can-eat-sooner-so-they-can-sleep-faster-so-they-can-wake-up-the-next-morning-and-get-to-work-on-time-so-they-can-come-home-on-the-train-and-run-to-their-cars…you get the point.

As my grandmother once told me over tea,  “I struggle, but I manage. Wherever I am, I manage.”

I’m laying the groundwork. To manage. To do more than manage. To create a different life than the one I’ve been expected to lead. I’m not interested in a BIG life. I’m not interested in going viral. I’m not interested in anything else but being whole.

It’ll take courage. It’ll take heart. It’ll take time.

And I’m ok with that.

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