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We Don't All Have to Be Trees

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

There are people who were born, grew up, went to school, found work, got married, and started families all in the same neighborhood. Their friends are their neighbors and their entire family lives within minutes. Doors are always open, everyone walks into everyone else's home freely and checks the fridge for snacks or help themselves to some coffee. When I meet people with this life experience, I think "wow, they are so lucky!"

What I would give for this kind of stability. To have my child grow up with family within walking distance, have large family gatherings and celebrations, be taught by the same teachers who taught me, and play with the sons and daughters of my friends and family.

Theirs is a place of stability.

In contrast, I was born in a country, grew up in another, married a man from a third, and have moved so many times since I left home that I can't quite tell where home is anymore. Not a dull day, not a familiar face in sight. Our family lives on two different continents and we are on a third. My daughter has been on airplanes since she was 4 months old. Just in family visit milage, she has covered the Earth's circumference at least once a year.

To be honest, moving and exploring different places didn't bother me at all. It still doesn't. I would be happy to pick up and move again. In fact, I look forward to it.

Mine is a place of freedom.

There is something about starting from scratch that keeps me humble, flexible, and ready to take on bigger challenges. Maybe it has to do with facing that I am in a new place now and I have to learn. I have to figure it out. It could also be that when we start from scratch, we look to learn from everyone around us, which keeps us alert. We can not take anything for granted. There is also an element of soul searching. Trying to adapt to a new situation often teaches us a lot about ourselves and what makes us happy.

I often wonder about people who live in the same house all their lives and what they consider moving, is the house down the street. Could they adapt to a different environment? Would they be able to live my life and the lives of many of us who left our country to start elsewhere?

For sure they are lucky to have their family, friends, familiarity, and support system so predictable. Like a tree. Years and seasons go by and they change with it from their place.

I am lucky too to have explored, experienced, and adapted to many different places. I have danced with the changing world and brought a piece of every place I lived in to the next.

I am not alone. More than ever, people are now moving for work or experience. Some take years off to explore the world. I know a family that decided to sail around the world with their infant in tow. That's a child who calls a sailboat home!

As we shift and move around the world, we enrich our communities old and new. We expose our vulnerability as we learn, adapt, and develop a special respect for all people. We are all better off with an entire, dynamic ecosystem. We don't all have to be trees.


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