Homesickness is a physical problem for me, not a mental problem. I actually feel it. For me it’s a dull ache in the stomach, with a tinge of nausea. It spreads from there, to a weakness in the knees and a spacy feeling in the head. It’s hard to get things done when I feel homesick. Everything seems like too much effort. Staying in bed is the best option, just counting the days and hours until I get to go home, wishing the present would go away.
Home isn’t perfect. America has lots of problems and my regular working life can be stressful. But still, it is home. I know my way around. There is no language barrier. I’m comfortable there. I can get the food I like and I’m more in control of my time. The strong infrastructure makes it much easier to get things done and I feel healthier and more powerful. And I have the woods and my beloved trails.
Going to Germany was disorienting (more on that in the next blog post), but returning to India was even harder. I’m happy to be back in the warm bosom of Dhrupad at the Gurukul with my amazing teachers and wonderful friends, but that dull ache of homesickness has hit me again. I know it will pass, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’m deeply grateful for the Fulbright experience I’m having here and there are many things I love about India, but when I’m feeling homesick all I can focus on are the things that bother me. I wish people would stop staring at me. The pollution is abominable. The conservative social mores and the public racism in this country are ridiculous. The corruption is frustrating. I wish there were real mountain biking options in Bhopal. And where or where are the trails? Ugh.
But then I realize once again that home is where I make it. I watched a documentary a few weeks ago about the folks living in refugee camps in Syria. I can’t imagine how they must feel. That is real struggle and real suffering. So I shift my thinking. I think of all the things I love about this place and all the incredible opportunities I have. I feel gratitude that my family is here, my precious girls and wife that I love above all. Being with them is the greatest blessing, no matter where. I focus on how lucky I am to explore this ancient music with no distractions, guided by the best teachers on the globe. I also think about how much I’ve been able to positively impact the students at the Gurukul through my teaching of Western music. And I think about all the genuine friends we’ve made with our neighbors. I feel something nice spreading from my heart to the rest of my body and slowly, slowly that dull ache fades away. I’m back in the center again. I’m home.