My twin boys just turned 14 years. We are in the midst of puberty oeps I mean they are. A confusing period for them and also for the parents. It is a threshold for them, they are on their way of becoming man. It is a transition phase for all of us. My kids have travelled the world with us.
They have lived, since they were born, in 4 countries, that means 3 to 4 years in one country and then moving to the next. We are now 3 years back in Belgium, for them a new country to explore. For us, the parents, a country filled with our own childhood memories.
As a family we were very used to a mobile life style and we were getting pretty good at it. This 3 to 4 year rhythm of change is still somehow in me. I feel the urge again for a big move, however we are staying. Now we have a new challenge and that is learning how to stay!
Learning how to stay
What I learned from living abroad and living amongst other cultures is to look at the other not so much with an open mind but rather with an empty mind. An open mind still may be influenced by that outside world and look at the other while comparing it to the self. While an empty mind is open to new and other ideas. We need to be careful that when marching into the world of the other, that we do not only look for those arguments that will help to hold our own position in life and proofs us right, like we are just collecting evidence to bolster our truth.
But if we really want to embrace the other, may it be the masculine, the feminine inside each of us, or your next-door neighbour, another culture, another country it is important that we do this with an empty mind so we truly give the other space to co-exist, so a real encounter can take place rather than a comparison between the two, either this or either that.
The willingness to meet the other with an empty mind can create a new beginning.
When two people meet, it is like two different worlds meet, even if people are from the same country still this person has its' own landscape with its' own capital, its' own mountains and valleys, seas and rivers.
By interacting with the other with an empty mind you are opening possibilities and new perspectives, by seeing the difference and sameness of the other rather than looking for proof for your position. By doing so, you embrace also the other in each one of us, that part of you we do not like to show, that part of us we like to hide, or when we see it in our offspring we say this behavior I truly do not recognize in myself. But is that so? Being open to the other is an important step to be open to that part in yourself that has been neglected or hidden away. Hiding parts from ourself is never good, we can never become whole.
I do believe that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world and vice versa. In our inner and outer journey make sure you also dare to look at these places we rather project on the others. Just remember that light and shadow co-exist, the one can not exist without the other, they are one.
text: Sarah Neirinckx
image: Tomasz Alen Kopera
inspiration: Phd. Brian Riedel
What should I do about the wild and the tame?
The wild heart that wants to be free,
and the tame heart that wants to come home.
I want to be held.
I don't want you to come too close.
I want you to scoop me up and bring me home at night.
I don't want to tell you where I am.
I want to keep a place among the rocks where no one can find me.
I want to be with you.
-Jeanette Winterson -
Painting by Beatriz Martin Vidal (www.beavidal.com)
Most of my friends, colleagues and clients who have had expats experiences when asked to describe the feelings that pops up when thinking back on how it was “the expat life”, say: “it has double feelings”. And that is exactly so, a lot of mixed feelings are involved when living abroad and also upon returning home.
I often refer to that part of me that longed for home when I lived abroad as “the tame” and that part of me that longed to go abroad and to be free as “the wild”.
Having mixed feelings on how you are living your life can cause internal conflicts. It is good to take time to look at internal conflicts, untangle these conflicting parts, name them and ask about their intentions. Allow both parts to be here and give them the attention, love and nutrition they need so they can co-operate with each other rather than fight each other. Feeding both parts will help to solve internal conflicts and so can help you to live a happier life.
Being able to hold two opposite ideas at the same time in my mind reminds me that I am so much more than these two opposites.
We all have parts in us that need attention and need to be fed. Do not neglect these parts of you that help you to become the person you truly inspire to be. Do not be freighted by paradoxes but find the strength to hold both in your mind and heart so both parts can enrich and feed you to become the whole person you inspire to be.
The weather is nice, at last the summer has started in Europe. It is like people come alive again. Holiday has started, my house is a busy buzz with the kids around. Being used to nice weather all
Resettling in your home country is not an easy task. What made me come back is not always so clear.
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