Or “three years wood wide web stories”
I am 32 years old and I have always been single … in the eyes of my parents. I never introduced someone as my significant other to them. There were men whom I loved dearly and my parents knew about some of my romances, though.
As in the life of other single women, there are friends who analyze why I have never had a long relationship ;). The biggest denominator of their theories is that I am unrooted. I do not settle. And it is true. I have lived in different places around the world. I am – as Sharon Blackie would call it- a serial rooter. I did not commit to a place, so how can I commit to a person?
Commitment to a place
And yes, commitment to a place has been a big challenge for me in the past ten years. Carl Jung said that the core of each life’s journey is one question we are born to pursue. My big question is one word, but it envelops many specific questions. It is: Home? More specific questions are: Where is home? How to feel at home? What is homecoming? How to improve my home?
These questions can be aligned with questions that we find in many cosmologies: Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? The first and the third questions are related to home. In earlier times, when most humans were peasants, the answers to the first and second questions would be the same. Where you are born is probably also the place where you will lay your bones. In these times, it is the place where you are born, the place where you root and stay rooted. The middle question can also be indirectly connected with what home is. Often, when you ask people what home means to them, they refer to people that let them feel home, or a life mission or questions that give them meaning, let them feel home the whole time, regardless of where they are. Home is for some people a place, for others a feeling, for most both.
In the past, people were born wherever they grew up. Being born then meant rooting. Between man ‘and the earth that saw him come into the world’, an almost corporeal bond had grown. There was not only a relationship between the individual and the community, but also a relationship on an even deeper level between the individual and the ancestral soil, the region from which one came. Now, most people are not born at home and do not live their whole life in the same place.
When you live in different places, like me, you are perhaps more in a transition period than your friends. Transitions and periods of change invite loneliness, because change makes us conscious of the loss or absence of meaningful connections. I often felt homesick, lonely, anxious. I met amazing humans who helped me to feel home in Austria, Thailand and Japan (for some reason, there are always Mexicans in each tribe). However, I had to also find tools to help me understand the root of the feeling inside me that something is missing in my life, a journey that I had to take alone.
When I heard about forest therapy in Japan in the end of summer 2018, I was directly hooked (and started this blog, almost exactly three years ago). I got the idea that this practice might give me the tools to cope with loneliness. Forest therapy – or forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku- is a nature-based wellbeing practice where a guide gives you prompts inviting you to sharpen your senses, in order to get more of the relationships of nature around and in you. I became a forest therapy guide and in my 6-month training, I started to have dates with plants, and, started to see previous encounters with plants before, in any place where I lived, differently. I started to notice and acknowledge how much they helped and taught me.
I was actually never single… in the eyes of nature ;).
Encouraged by an Austrian friend, I started to publish short stories of maximum 2500 characters on an Austrian short story web platform. The condition is that these stories really happened. No place for fiction. Other people of the community can post comment and like it, so you get some feedback. You can bundle 17 short stories in a small book and publish yourself or submit it to one of the contests. So I started writing about my dates with plants, and what they taught me, when they were (or are still) my companion in the place where I rooted back then. Each story takes 2-3 minutes reading. So far I published 4 stories about ‘dating with plants’ in various places where I lived, or visited shortly – and what kind of lesson this plant (and also this place) taught me.
If you are interested, please read the stories. You can visit them by clicking on the website and can leave comments. I plan to write as many short stories as possible, edit them, integrating the feedback I get, and select then the 14 best stories to publish in a small book.
After three years
… starting this blog, I might actually found “thé place”. Since my first full day in Gjøvik, Norway, my life feels balanced. I am not in lalaland, singing cheerful popsongs and dancing as if I am a movie character in the end of a feelgoodmovie. It is the first time in adulthood, I think about a place: “Hmm, here I can live for a very long time”. I was even surprised, said it even aloud: ‘Let’s commit, Gjøvik.’ After two more difficult years, things come easily. As if the universe wanted to help me. Already on my second full day, a colleague notified me about a dream apartment that came free. And for a very good price. I visited the place, met the previous person who rented it and the landlord, and the apartment was exactly how I wanted it. I met new people who inviting me on outdoor trips for which you need a car, and I live relatively close to old friends that promised already to visit soon. And the nonhuman nature is so astonishing; it’s located at a big lake, there are hills, there are folkstories. I found the kind of coffee/cake/lunch place that the hipster part in me loves, exactly in the interior design colors that makes me dream. The people in my new job are so kind and I like the tasks so far; I am tired at the end of the day, and especially on Friday, but in a ‘good way tired’. This town offers me everything what I need. I am almost a bit suspicious that it comes ‘so easily’. On the other hand, an old wise woman said there is maybe a reason why my apartment, the job, the people come ‘so easily’ here. I arrived home.