Challenges in Coming Home

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Men dream more about coming home than they do about leaving – The Alchemist

I still remember being in the kitchen with my house mate, casually dicing ingredients of our dinner, when he cut through the silence… rather bluntly.

“You don’t want to go, do you?” He cared not about offending me, certain in the fact that he knew me. A sign of true friendship.

“Of course not,” I replied. Relieved to let out some honesty like the kettle and its steam. I wanted to stay. I didn’t always like what I had, where I was; but I felt safe in the familiar.

After an initial culture shock, Tonga – where I spent 2014 – also became familiar. It was only when I returned home to Australia, that I realised that Tonga, once dreaded and unknown, had also become a place I felt safe.

The year away presented me with so many different experiences: Good times, bad times, better days and worse ones. One thing that kept me going was knowing that I was coming home. So why aren’t things as great as I envisioned?

It’s explained online that some  of the negative experiences of returning home may include:

• Feeling like family and friends don’t understand how you’ve changed and have tired of listening to your stories
• Feeling like you don’t have anything in common with your friends anymore
• Rejection of your own culture, particularly consumerism and affluence
• Constantly comparing practices in Australia with those in your Host Country
• Uncertainty about the future
• Difficulty making decisions
• Feeling misunderstood
• Boredom
• Loss of identity
• Feeling overwhelmed or disorientated

The technical term is “reverse culture shock.”

The most shocking – rather scary – thing to me is how easy it is to fall back into old routines; to be the same old person. Forgetting all those promises I made about changing as the sun would set over the ocean – a shared treasure in Tonga, but a luxury here, reserved for those with water-front homes.

And here I am back in the suburbs, surrounded by things I now know I don’t need, while uncertain about what I need the most. I’m making changes though: no longer going to the gym as much, focusing on development, speaking to a psychologist, spending less time with certain friends, spending more time with my family. So it’s definitely been good to be back – but not as great as I thought it would be.

I guess the truth is that we can’t run – from ourselves or from our responsibilities. Sure, I’ve come back – but with all intentions of going forwards.

 

 

 

 

A View of Vuna (GoPro Video)

Video

I’m excited to present my first ever video project!

Having spent several months in Tonga, riding my bike down the same major road each day, I really wanted to make a video to capture the trip (and a few other things). Of course, this was no more than an idea. Which means, it was  post-it note stuck on my bedroom wall…

Then, I was pushed by a gust of inspiration after attending a local film festival and seeing some of the work done by several new film makers. I hadn’t used a GoPro before, done any video editing, or even know what I would film – but I just went for it.

Once I started, the pieces seemed to fall into place as what was once a vision, started to take place in front of me – looking far better than I imagined it. There was minimal sleep, eating, and doing of anything else until I was done. But I absolutely enjoyed putting it together, and I hope you feel the same about watching it.

Enjoy.

Boy

 

A Letter from Luke

Note from Luke

Meeting Luke was a reminder about how even the most straight forward of roads have their forks. As we have choices, which are also – not as straight forward.

After placing my fork and knife down, I planned to just go home after dinner. As I was walking back, I decided to deliberately pass closer by to a group of guys seated by the beach. Maybe I just wanted a proper conversation. Another chance after the dinner I had just sat awkwardly through.

A timid and tentative “What’s up guys” was replied with a confident “Yo Boy.”

That’s how easy it is for a fork to appear.

It turns out I knew just one of the guys, and it wasn’t long before I knew them all pretty well. Well, at least it feels intimate when you’re stumbling home drunk and sharing a cigarette.

I did think about the important Teacher’s March I had to participate in the next day – but I also thought about the other things on my mind.  Specifics aside, there was regret, worry, fear, and doubt. The typical shit. I thought a drink or two would help ease me up.

And that’s how easy it is to take the wrong turn.

The rest is a blur. I remember offering my couch to Luke, who I had just met that night. I can’t remember what we spoke about exactly, but I’m sure it was the kind of conversation I wanted to have because I do remember singing this

“I never conquered, rarely came
16 just held such better days
Days when I still felt alive
We couldn’t wait to get outside
The world was wide, too late to try
The tour was over we’d survived
I couldn’t wait till I got home
To pass the time in my room alone”

(Adam’s Song -Blink 182)

Before we could make it through the whole song, my head went from banging to hanging – over the toilet. I threw up – several times, before passing out. In the morning Luke was gone but this note was left in my journal.

He had gone his separate way, and I was left to decide which way I was going to go. What choice I was going to make: to suck it up and go to the March, or to stay home. However, it was obvious I had already made my decision last night. I was in absolutely no condition to go anywhere, let alone, move much. I missed the March. I fucked up. In more ways than one, I really felt like shit.

Despite the hangover, I experienced a sense of clarity regarding the next choice I had to make. Since I valued honest conversations, it was time I had one with my supervisor. Someone I knew well. Someone I had also lied to; stating food poison as the reason I was sick.

The irony is, I’m not only back on the right track, I’m further along it. The conversation gave me a chance to be honest about a lot of things. It really improved our relationship.

Of course, my decision to get drunk could have easily been followed by a worse one to lie about it – but it wasn’t. Of course, I could have also gone to the march and still had that conversation I needed to have – but – I didn’t.

Life is never that straight forward.

Perhaps that’s the blessing in the way we encounter and make choices. At least I learned, in this occasion, sometimes the only way we can make that right turn is by making, what appears to be, a wrong one first.