How to check in with a sensation and understand its message
“Lake, tell me. Do I belong on your shore?”
I was surprised by the flat, dull, muted feeling in response to my query.
Recently, I booked a hotel room for a week and, from the balcony, admired Lake Geneva, the little town of Evian-les-Bains and the surrounding hills. I had given myself a mission, and I had a plan. I was there to meet local people and explore relocation possibilities with these questions in mind:
Is this a place for me? Could I find a home here? Would I make friends?
On the last day of my stay, I began to feel a muted and dull sensation in my belly, a flat response I didn’t expect. What could this neutrality mean?
The lake had been a favorite destination for the past ten years when I regularly came down the mountains for a change of scenery from Mont-Blanc‘s impressive splendor to the softer shores of the largest Alpine lake. Every season, I regularly made the hour-and-a-half journey to give myself open space and breathe deeply. I felt Lac Léman and I had begun to tame each other. Although I knew no one in Thônon or Evian, I imagined finding a sunfilled apartment by the water where I would take my grandmother’s linen armoire and a few treasures, find a dancing partner and write.
So while sitting on the hotel’s terrace, at sunrise and sunset and facing the night lights of Lausanne, floating on the opposite shore, all week, I kept asking the lake directly:
Lake, please tell me, am I meant to move here and make a life for myself? Do I belong on your shore?
The answer was an unexpected flat impression – an indifferent dullness – a sense of no drama –
How very strange! Only a week earlier, I had arrived, happily anticipating a validation of my attraction, a bubbling spring of excitement, and a green light to start looking at real estate in earnest while allowing myself to keep an open mind and do due diligence.
Since then, I’ve deliberately stayed with the dull sensation, protecting it, not wanting to rush it, deny it, or compromise it. Watchful of potential disappointment lurking, I’ve held it like a newborn, with great care. I’ve listened. I’ve written in my journal daily. Two months on, the feelings have evolved, and to the earlier message, I see now that:
Home is somewhere else, or Now is not the time
So, maybe Lac Léman and I do not belong to each other in that intimate way, or perhaps the timing is off. That message sounds reasonable and valid. And as I pursue my query, I will stay open-minded.
To belong is a human need as fundamental as food, shelter and safety. We are witnessing a time of significant disruption and massive movement of populations, be it by war, famine or disaster. Putting aside the cynical games the powerful play on vulnerable displaced people, let’s remember that welcoming the weary stranger is a long-time-honored duty and tradition.
And now, a favorite poem: THE HOUSE OF BELONGING ©David Whyte and Many Rivers Press https://davidwhyte.com/
This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.
This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.
There is no house
like the house of belonging.