For the past few weeks, I have been staring at a blank piece of paper, perplexed as I contemplate the question, what do I want to do next? My normal reactive answer is, “I don’t know.” But that’s not the truth, just an automated response. Buried below an entangled mesh of irrational fear and anxiety, the true answer lies.
Each time I have come back to Melbourne after lengthy sojourns overseas, the question of home is forefront in my mind. Melbourne is the city of my birth, the city where I grew from a child into a woman, the city where I have lived the majority of my life, the city where most of my family and friends reside and the city that features as the backdrop to most of my memories. I love Melbourne. Coming back here, it never fails to remind what a great city it is and how fortunate we are as Australians and Melbournians to have the freedom, choice and opportunity that we have here and often take for granted. But despite all of this, I still find myself in the same state of mind, I was two years ago. I don’t want to live here right now and it makes me wonder if I will ever want to live here permanently again.
The reasons I don’t want to live here are interwoven and they are more like questions about how I want to live my life and what I want it to look like. What work could I do that makes me feel alive, that doesn’t feel like the Monday to Friday 9 to 5 dying for the weekend hard slog? I’ve had the taste of a sweet life doing something I love, where everyday feels like a happy Friday and weekends don’t exist but I haven’t yet figured out how to recreate that in Melbourne. And whilst there is beauty in the transition of seasons, summer is unreliable and the grey of winter seems to dominate ruling with a bitter coldness that painfully permeates my bones so that even a tropical monsoon rain season is more tempting than facing another Melbourne winter. When I am here, I long for warm weather and warm seas. Last of all, I wonder how I can live a life here that feels adventurous and free? How do I live with commitments or return to a corporate office environment and still feel the same freedom and adventure I have felt when diving and travelling? I’m not ready to give that up but I don’t know how or if I can have that in Melbourne.
Whilst my urge to roam is strong, there is an equal part of me that is calling out for home. Somewhere to rest my weary shell where I can be surrounded by the friends and family that I love. Where I can be surrounded by my own belongings in an organised fashion and not living out of a backpack. Where I can access unlimited opportunity and finally unleash all that I have to offer. There is a part of me that fears financial ruin, that understands the opportunity cost of the choices I have made and is nagging me to “settle down or you will never buy a home, you will sabotage your career opportunities, you will end up working until you are 80 or living on Age Pension if it still exists.” The arguments have spun around my head, tossed between bickering Gemini twins, the practical versus the free-spirited, the head versus the heart, trying to decide: Do I opt for home? Or do I opt to roam?
Parking the complex issue of home, I pondered the question of roam. "So if you don’t stay, where do you want to go?" I started with my usual response. "I don’t know." But when I removed the self-imposed, invisible boundaries restricting me to Asia, it felt like a complex jigsaw puzzle with too many pieces. I selectively held up pieces one at a time, trying to determine where in the picture of my life it fit and if it fit at all. I had to make a final selection of pieces so that the puzzle would fit seamlessly together and form a picture that spoke to my heart. Finally, after weeks of selecting, re-selecting and rearranging pieces, I finally ended up with a beautiful picture that made my heart leap with excitement and I knew I had a plan.
In case you haven’t guessed. Roam won. In real life, all the pieces are falling perfectly and easily into place. Home will either be found whilst roaming or it will be here when I return. And the things that I am looking for, my questions about place and purpose in life are constantly unfolding, here in Melbourne and abroad. Roaming is part of my process, allowing space, time and synchronicity to reveal my truth. At times it is confusing, frustrating and causes me desperate despair as my head struggles to see the big picture that is still blurry and out of focus for my human eyes. But my heart knows that all of this is just part of my human experience and that one day, roaming will help to bring me home.