I’ve relocated many times since I got married four years ago. I was born and bred in Singapore. Then I moved to Indiana, after which I lived in Wisconsin for a spell before returning to Singapore for 2 years. We were finally able to afford to buy our own apartment and I actually began to entertain thoughts of being ‘settled’, but it was not meant to be. We had to move again and this time to Islamabad, Pakistan.
Relocating was exhausting, physically and emotionally. It meant leaving my comfort zone, family, friends, comfortable routines and familiar surroundings. There were times when being in a new place made me feel ungrounded. I had to learn new rules, make new friends and this overwhelmed and frustrated me many many times.
Still, I feel that I’ve gained tremendously from these challenges. Each time I have shifted to a new place, the experience has been enriching.
Moving and the initial isolation of being in new lands allowed me to rethink my life. I have come to the conclusion that the possibilities are endless and it is a liberating thought. Back in Singapore, I used to dream about breaking away and reinventing myself because I felt bogged down by my past and all the mistakes and regret that came with it.
Relocating helped me do just that – I was able to dump all that weighty old baggage and script and start anew. There was no one to judge me, no one to doubt me and no one to rain on my parade. I was charting a new course on a fresh slate and the very idea was exciting – it was all about exploring unchartered territories and discovering beautiful surprises.
Moving has also helped me realise how this life itself is a journey. The Qur’an tells us, “What is the life of this world but play and amusement? But best is the home in the hereafter, for those who are righteous. Will you not then understand?” (Surah Al-An’am 6:32)
I’ve learnt to slow down, to stop accumulating and to instead try to focus on my ultimate destination. Each time I feel disgruntled about the things I cannot have or have had to leave behind, I remind myself of the Messenger of Allah . He had but a rough mat to sleep on and when Ibn `Abbas radhiallahu `anhu saw its markings on his body, he suggested that the Prophet sleep on something more comfortable. He, , replied, “What do I have to do with this worldly life? I and this worldly life are but like a traveler who stopped for a little while under a tree to get some shade and then move on.”
So, I’ve learnt not to get too attached to things because the best things in life are NOT things.
I’ve also learnt that relationships CAN endure the tests of time and distance.
Best of all, I know now that home isn’t necessarily a physical structure or location – those are just props. Home is where there is love, joy and really, it’s just geography…