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On Returning Home

It’s funny, I was saying in an email last night that I was good to be home, and I realized that this funny little apartment in Jeonju, South Korea, is indeed my home. It’s what I think of when I say the word, it’s how I feel when I get off that shuttle bus. Funny and strange but not at all bad.

Having been away for two whole months, that is also strange. Now, one might think that I could have come back like Odysseus, wandering off the ship to find his world gone into a bundle of chaos. But I don’t feel that way at all.

Rather, I am reminded of a scene in the Peter Brook production of the epic The Mahabharata where a character, perhaps Krishna but I’m not sure, is walking along and people realize he is blessed by the gods because at every footfall, a lotus blossom springs from the place where his foot touched the earth. It’s an immensely delicate and beautiful image to me, this kind of blessedness, and in some way it says a lot of how I feel right now.

Things aren’t perfect: the day doesn’t have 32 hours, which is about what I need sometimes. It looks like near-daily practice is the way we’re going to proceed for a while with the band, which is pretty intense. I still haven’t written that last measly 20 pages I need to write to finish the draft of my novel. I’m shorter on cash than I expected (though far from in trouble). My baggage even got lost when I arrived.

And yet, my return seems to me rather full of blessings. To leave a place with a feeling of readiness, and yet also a desire to see more, is a good feeling. To leave behind friends of the best kind, that is an even greater blessing, and I have left some wonderful friends in India. To arrive to a welter of excited emails that you read at the airport’s complimentary net consoles.

To wake the next morning to the beautiful voice you’ve missed hearing for weeks. To arrive with a concert already booked for a week away, and a wonderful practice room that has breathed life into the band; to play music with people who feel such intense joy doing it, and who welcome you with embraces and smiles that honestly sing back your welcoming song. To share together a taste of heavenly liquor such that only rich men drink, which you bore back because you missed the music that you played together, and longed to give something to your bandmates.

To find taxi drivers rounding down your fare as you ramble on about taxis and life in India. To joke with a woman at the shop across the street that you’ve missed eating kimchi everyday and then find such kindness in her that she immediately runs off and gets some of her own family’s personal supply for you to use until some more stock comes in at the shop. To be told that you look good and that the weight you lost was well-lost, and to fee that way too. To have things to give people that show them you thought of them, and to see on their faces that they know you thought of them.

I feel as if lotuses are blossoming from my every footstep, and that I find blessings everywhere I turn. Maybe this feeling will soften, maybe it will disappear and I’ll be amidst normal life sometime. But right now it’s wonderful and I’m not going to do anything but savour it.

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