“Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?”Emil Cioran
In a recent interview on French television, author Velibor Čolić offered the audience his entrancing interpretation of exile as follows: ‘I did not come, I stayed ; exile is more about staying than leaving’.
Indeed, we leave as emigrants but we stay as expatriates. Is the reason why we fled our home country ever more important than the reason why we choose to stay? Wouldn’t the positive aspects prevail over the negative ones?
I never planned to leave London. The city had for so long puzzlingly mesmerized me and deeply transformed me. I had learned life-changing lessons of wisdom and growth in a place I so fondly cherished. Its cosmopolitism also gave me sublime encounters with people coming from all corners of the globe. Whilst my time in the British capital endowed me with the most genuine of friendships, its openness enticed me to discover other cities and countries. I might have loved being all settled there, I had to embrace change and the possibility of falling in love with countless other places.
Was this just another exile? I do not believe so, for every time I have the chance to come back, I still feel home, safe and sound on cloud nine.
Perhaps, I had always planned to leave my home country. Although I never believed that I would be able to do it so young, I always knew. I had never felt truly at home in Paris, somewhere none of my family came from. I had come to dislike the metropolis profoundly. Moreover, I had always been torn by the fact that my father was from another country, which in the end I did not know well — something I regretted very much. I had kept a dream of London for a long time since childhood, for a reason I never grasped. And as I fell in love with the city, I later became bewitched by the concept of expatriation.
This certainly was the only real exile of my life. Leaving, on grounds of exhaustion from not belonging.
I never planned to live in Spain. In fact, when I was younger, I loathed the fact that people would make connections about me and the Iberian peninsula as if I had any lineage from that part of the world. This was due to the fact that half of my family was from the other part of the Mediterranean, Italy. For instance, in school, I had chosen to learn Italian as a second language as an act of rebellion against the majority of pupils who enrolled in the Spanish class. Yet, for some reason, I ended up here, along this charming and lively coast.
Traveling is somehow a quick getaway, a break from your day-to-day life. One discovers a new town from a, usually, brief period of time and through the lens of the tourist, the foreigner, the stranger. Becoming an expatriate is very different. One has to make himself belong to the community, to learn the local rituals and lifestyle. It means to accept all the differences that exist with what one has been accustomed to. The longer one stays, the better one actually gets to know the culture.
Thus, traveling as much as possible is not a dream of mine, rather a past time. However, a dream of mine is to live in as many different places as possible. There’s one challenge to accept: the one of leaving everything behind, be it good or bad, and starting over, taking a leap into the unknown. I never thought I would end up living in sunny Barcelona, Spain. Perhaps I’ll stay here for a year, just the time for me to learn the Castilian, or perhaps I’ll be bored soon enough. I am not setting any deadlines, for I let everything go with the flow. One year on? I have no clue where I will be.
This is the magical part of life (and open borders as well). You meet people from all over the world and someday you suddenly realize you wish to move elsewhere. Perhaps, five years from now, you’ll be living on an island you never even knew existed or a continent on which the climate you never believed would fit your lifestyle. If you’re open-minded enough, you accept the core value of life: change and evolution; and thus you trust in letting go to embrace new ventures.
In the end, everywhere you go, you bring a part of the place where you used to live — and this place, you will forever be able to call it home.
what is your exile?