Mobility. Stability. Longing and Contentment.

Travel versus Home

As I was walking along the waterfront the other day I was taken by how close I live to the airport and the harbor. Not that I'm oblivious to this most of the time, it's just that seeing the boats in the harbor and the planes taking off in the distance, I was struck anew by how easy it is to get away from here. The paradox is that this is part of why I can stay here so happily.

Maybe I could blame my wanderlust on my military upbringing. Moving all the time has created an internal clock that won't let me sit still happily for too long. I once had a boss who shared that his wife was the same way, but for him it meant periodically bruised shins. He'd come home from work and run into the furniture, Dick van Dyke style (c'mon I know SOME of you are old enough to remember Rob & Laura, right?) If Steve's wife couldn't move every couple years, at least she could seriously rearrange the furniture so it seemed like she was living in a new spot.

In my otherwise successful four-hour first date with my husband, one hitch was when he announced he would never live as an ex-Pat anywhere. It was sort of like he'd reached across the table and socked me in the stomach. It had been going so well to that point. I pretended it didn't matter and in fact, the date went very well. And here we are quite happy all these years later. But the expat life is one I'd seen glimpses of and being in an expat community was the first sense I had of belonging. It was an underground club in Beijing years ago, but that's a story for another day. The point is, I always thought my life would be abroad.

Maybe it's the National Geographic magazines and the Jacques Cousteau specials. Between them and Julia Child, explaining this food originating in a fascinating place called "France", well there just wasn't any way I was going to spend my whole life in one place. I knew it from a young age. With great certainty, I would not be one of those people who stayed in the same town they grew up in. Especially if that place looked like Terre Haute, Indiana or Bowie, MD. Nothing against the good people in either of those places, but they just don't inspire me to dreams of "forever."

Even really wonderful places I've been don't do that. And I've been lucky enough to be in some really fantastic places. But there's always the place I haven't been to yet that intrigues me so. That list is long, very long. Escape and being content at home. Interesting to ponder.

From Slumdog to Millionaire

I thought of this whole issue when watching the beautiful, sad, touching Slumdog Millionaire last night. Mobility there had different meanings. When you see the slums of India and what the children must endure, it's hard even when prettied up for the movie, as I'm sure this was. Later in the movie you see two brothers sitting in a tall building overlooking the slums they came from. It's a perspective you don't get when you're on the ground and how do little ones mired in the slums literally see another possibility for their lives? If, by chance, they get that perspective and a taste of that opportunity how does it change them? How does it change their destiny?

In fact, the two main characters get a taste of life elsewhere, not just upward mobility, but physical mobility, and their lives are changed. 

The movie gives us some timeless themes to ponder. What is the nature of human beings? What is destiny versus in our control? What is loyalty or love? What pains might we inflict on others if put in that circumstance? What is the nature of redemption?

It is a film that had a very chatty theater silenced in minutes, and for the rest of the film. While seeing some glimpses of harsh reality, it also reminds us of important qualities we have within us, no matter what our circumstances. We have the capacity for hope, for love. For kindness, even when it is unearned. Truth matters. At least it can, and we can hold to that. 

If you haven't seen it, do go see it. You will not be disappointed. The lead roles are handled very well and the children especially are something to watch.

The themes are universal and timeless and well worth revisiting, even if you've been there before. Maybe you'll even find some new terrain. Some place for a wandering heart to feel at home.