“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
When we lived abroad, we often referred to ourselves as economic refugees. In other words, we called home any place where the cost of living was within our meager budget before we started to collect Social Security and pensions. But, now we realize that we are existential travelers, searching for meaning and purpose in our lives by exploring our humanness through cultural immersion in different parts of the world.
Existential migration is a new concept and a new way of thinking about what we call home. As far as my understanding, it means a chosen attempt to express something fundamental about existence by leaving one’s home base and immersing oneself in another culture, whether it is in one’s country of birth or an international destination, which makes the term “existential travelers” perfect for us.
Home is interaction; that is the ‘feeling of home’ that arises from specific interactions with our surroundings that could potentially occur anywhere, at any time. Our home is not a fixed geographical place. It was especially difficult for us to wrap our heads around the concept of existential migration during the pandemic, when we were unable to travel internationally. Yet, we are driven to move, to migrate, to travel to places unknown to us. We seek out existential travel to discover the meaning of our existence.
So, home became a feeling of belonging, challenging us to look at ‘home’ with eyes without borders and explore what constitutes belonging and the nature of homelessness. These were new perspectives for us as travelers beyond 60.
The insights we have gained from existential travel enhance our existing understanding of traveling in exciting ways. We are thriving in the experiences of foreignness…even in our country of birth. We have been able to immerse ourselves in the history and culture of each national park we call home for a short duration.
Home is where the heart is. It can be for a day, a month, a year. Home is timeless. It becomes an inward journey through our search for charitable views of humanness, kindness, and nonjudgmental perspectives.
Home has become a sensation of peace and comfort, a refuge from the cold, the arms of my husband wrapped around me, and the deep feeling that we are all connected. Home is where my passions, my dreams, and my hopes reside.
What is your meaning of home?