Going Home: What No One Really Talks about

A few months ago, I sat down with two Polish friends in an Irish Pub in Copenhagen. We talked about many different things and I felt inspired by their input, as I always do when I find myself among people who come from different places. Foreigners (to you, which potentially, could be anyone…) always bring their own backgrounds into the conversation and that is, to me, what makes these conversations particularly rich.

That day, we knew it, was one of the last nights we would spend together as I was a few weeks away from going back “home”, a home which hadn’t been mine for the past 5 and a half years. It was about to be special, in many ways, and our conversation slowly went on to touch on the most interesting topics to the nomad’s life: being “back”.

Surprisingly enough, I had never talked nor heard anyone talk about what one of my two friends mentioned: pressure.

Oh, the pressure of going back home… Where do I start? Does being “back” really mean being “back” to where we left from, to the mindset we were in before flying out, to the same routine, to the same house, to the same people?

Going back home is very hard – because everything can be the same and yet nothing feels as it fits anymore. But the expectations are the same. Your parents expect the same from you. Your siblings. Your friends. Your country’s workplace. Your neighbourhood. Nothing has changed but you have and everything needs to be updated.

The food you couldn’t live without suddenly doesn’t look appealing to you anymore; you find yourself having to look for conversation topics to discuss with your best friends when you used to spend so much time together without ever wondering why you’d have to leave; the places you used to love have become dull; no job position seems to be of interest for your profile and your desires; the people you thought could understand you the best have no answer to comments or questions nor does it seem they have any interest in listening to you anymore.

And it’s hard not to think it is bad. That you are bad, that they’re bad, that the food is bad, that the neighbourhood is bad, that the work situation is bad, that the people are bad, that everything is bad. It is hard because, somehow, it feels like it. Because in that other place, you found this amazing food that seems to have been made for you; you found this company to work in, which you loved so much you could have created yourself; you made such special friends you wished could have come along with you; you’ve seen so many places where you’d see yourself live a daily life; you’ve seen so much that what you have now, back home, does not seem enough, does not seem to fit who you are anymore.

Everyone, everything – they keep expecting the same things from you. The same behaviours, the same way to dress, the same tastes, the same desires, when maybe, maybe, something has changed within you, some things have changed, you don’t really know why, but you find it hard to explain and you’re not sure where it comes from, but it’s there, it’s different, it’s special and you wished you could do something about it.

I think it’s about updating and being okay with the change that’s happened within. Being okay with the fact that you’re not the same. And that it’s a good thing.

Maybe our home countries can deal with our changes, too (and by home countries, I mean everything around us, the people, the food, the landscapes, the plants, the animals, etc.); but we have to make the update, be proactive and change what has to be changed. Updating might not work, but it’ll be worth the try. And then the world is still open, and there’s still time and places to go…

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Sing your Anger

For the past six months or so, I have been working at a yoga studio for a few hours a week in exchange of as many classes as I want. The experience has been very interesting, because it means working for something way less physical than money. It makes everything very special, because you need to find an answer to why you have decided to give a hand here without being rewarded the way society commonly rewards you. You have to do what you are doing for the love of the environment, for the love of the outcome, for the love of the possibility you are given (in my case, yoga classes).

It is not my first experience doing it, but the first times I tried, my mindset was very different, the place I was living in was very different, the people I was working with were different, everything was different. It was not something I thought of too much, I wanted to stay in a “take it easy” way of living my life and the best way to reach that stress-free daily living while still being of help somewhere was to work in exchange of useful goods: a bed, food, and this kind of things you always need.

Yoga is a secondary need (or is it not?). Yoga can be done outside a studio. Yoga can be cheap (sometimes). So yoga is not necessary, unlike my need of a bed and food to survive and remain healthy. And even if I decide to go to the yoga studio to give a hand at maintaining the place in order, I can minimise efforts and energy, because no one is going to come to me – first of all because no one is behind me checking that I am being nice to customers or doing everything in time – and tell me that I am doing things wrong, it would be ridiculous. At least that’s the way they see it at the yoga studio where I work: they remind you from time to time why it is important to be nice to customers and to clean towels in due time, but they don’t come and poke your shoulder to tell you that they want you out of the place.

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So it is each and everyone of us hostesses’ responsibility to do things the way they should be done, and the way we would like them to be done. After all, we practice yoga in the same room as customers, take showers in the same bathroom and walk out of the place through the same door. All rules of the studio apply to us as well, and a way we are thanked for what we do comes from our enjoyment of the pleasant place itself – the fruit of our work.

What is the link with the title of this article, you’re asking? Well, to be honest with you, today I just felt inspired and sat down at the library and started thinking and started writing without really knowing where I was going. And then only did I start to give my words and thoughts some sense (the beauty of writing – you get lost and then you find your way back, or rather, forward; and also, you annoy people because they have to focus more when reading, because they have to read twice the words written before the parenthesis opened and then they’re angry and then that’s when the rest of the text will make sense, see, I know where I’m going guys, don’t lose faith).

This past Monday, while waiting for yogis to check in, I was mind blown in a particular way. You know, when you hear something, a theory, a song, or when you read or simply think and end up on a new conclusion, new thoughts and think to yourself that “wow, I’d never thought of it this way before, that’s smart/beautiful/ingenious/fillintheblank” because what you’ve just realised appears both obvious and very well hidden. The yoga teacher who was with me told me about her 4 year old son who is always angry. “There’s nothing wrong with being angry,” she said to me. “But you need to make your anger your own, you know, give it meaning… You know?” she added.

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So she told her son to sing his anger. Every time he feels angry, he does not throw toys around nor does he hit on people. He does not hurt anyone with words either, he sings angrily, and he forgets about his anger because it is out there, in the air, and he gave it meaning – he turned it into a game and made it his own. Emotions might give you the feeling (see what I did here) that you’re losing touch with yourself, loosing control. Although it is hard to sing your anger, and you might have to sing a lot to let it all out, there is one thing to remind yourself of when you loose patience: we’re always more powerful than we think. We can always sing louder than we think and materialise emotions differently – and it is empowering.

That’s what my yoga teacher’s message was: Don’t shout, don’t throw, don’t act for nothing, sing your anger and give it meaning; let it out into the world and turn it into a bird, let it out so it is useful to you. So it is not in vain. And I linked it. Just like that money you’re working for: look beyond it (would you do things the way you’re doing them now if you didn’t receive that money?).

Find your anger and materialise it; find your money and make it silent and golden (silence is golden, right?). And although it is hard to let go of money (because yes, you gotta buy that toy for your kid and gotta have more than two pairs of shoes and gotta have dinner and drinks out, otherwise you’re a bad parent, dress with no style and have no social life – sorry, what I am really trying to do is annoy you so you can give that technique of singing your anger a go), and hard not to think that the only way you can truly be rewarded is through numbers written on a floating internet web page is just the way it should be (or so I’ve been told), you need to give it a go. Trying to materialise your reward differently is empowering.

Letting your anger out is exhilarating – just like letting go of the need for money. You’re free to choose what you make of what you do when you do it for the sake of it, for your sake. You make it your own.

Brace yourself. Sing your anger. Work for no money.

(See, you can say anything and give any meaning to anything just like I did)

These Expected Hours Spent at the Local Library

     I’ve always loved books. I grew up having books read by my parents at night since I was a kid; and luckily enough, I had two younger sisters who made it possible for me to hang on a little longer to the bedtime stories. On Wednesday mornings, my mom would take us to the library for the kids reading session, and although I don’t remember much of it, I remember loving it. When I was about 8 or 9, however, my mom decided it was time for me to read on my own. She bought me the first book of the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (which I just learnt is a pen name… I often wondered how a name could sound so cool) and offered to read the first few chapters with me – yes, I was very reluctant to give up on this moment of the day.

     This was the turning point of my love for books. I had just moved to a new room on my own, had a loft bed where I could withdraw to my bubble and pretend the world under and around didn’t exist, where my imagination had no limits. When I buried myself into the lines of this series of books, I left the Earth; I left my room; suddenly, I was in that old frightening house where the Baudelaire kids lived, I felt how they felt, I could relate to them. This is when books started to be my escape from the Real; and still now, I immerse myself into a fantasy-like story when I’ve had enough of reality.

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    Suppressed sounds, paper pages turning, muted steps, low voices – library atmospheres are among my favourites on the planet. Bookshops go hand in hand with that and I find it very hard to spot anything else when there is one a few meters away from where I stand, and even harder to force myself to leave the place empty-handed (obviously, wether I walk in is not remotely a matter I have to decide upon).

       A few months ago, I wrote about the Wanaka library and how I unexpectedly ended up staying for a few hours instead of hitting the road (you can read the article here). Going back to a routin-y life, it also meant going back to the world of daily studying and library visiting – and although it happened to be quite challenging in the beginning, the part that involved my being in libraries on a daily basis has delighted me.Today, as I finally entered the Black Diamond library here in Copenhagen, my reaction was instant: I felt blessed. I was told the inside of it was surprisingly very old, since the outside of the building looks very modern – black and diamond-shaped, as its name suggests, covered in gigantic glass windows, located by København havnen, the water in between the inner city and Christianshavn.

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This is the Black Diamond library from the other bank and inside. (source)

     My first thought was to wonder why I hadn’t been there before. It took me three months to finally visit the Harry-Potter-like royal library. I was in the book; or I could also have been at one of the UK’s old university libraries – all in all, something I never thought thought would be available to me on a daily basis. I am amazed at the wooden shelves, the wooden tables, the publishing dates written on the books closest to me (1894!!!), the green lantern-like lamps above the wooden desks part that separate two people facing each other.

     What is it with libraries? Is it just me? I am always so impressed by them; if I had more times on my hands, I would go through all the books on the shelves and go through their pages; wonder how long it took to gather these words together; wonder who was responsible for the publication, the editing; wonder who got the idea and how, when, where.

      If I could, I would move to live in a library. That’s right, I’d never get bored; stories could be the product of one’s imagination or factual, I’d learn new things, new words, anything, every day; yes, really, that sounds like a good idea, I would like to move to a library.

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For lack of a picture of the actual old part of the royal library, this is the old university library, that can be entered from Fiolstræde. (source)