Where you are

As my delightful 3 year old boy dances happily through the room, he sings a song from Disney movie Moana:

Moana, make waaaay, make waaaay (he extends the ‘aaaaaay’ sound as long & loud as possible)
Moana, it’s time you knew
The village of Motonui is all you need

Moana is struggling. She’s utterly bored in her village and longs to take her boat and go elsewhere. Her island is beautiful, but it’s small, and the world is a big place full of attractive adventures.

Since I lived in South Africa for a year, I’m intrigued by migration. The voluntary type. You know, just because. Most of us First Worlders never leave the country we are born in. Some don’t leave their village. And for 38 years I didn’t bother to look elsewhere. And when I did… it was a hugely satisfying and enriching experience in a multitude of dimensions. It changed me.

Contrary to my naive expectations, living elsewhere is so much more than just visiting a country for vacation. Learning about new cultures and its people, experiencing foreign politics firsthand and how it aims to deal with local challenges. It brings up the illusion that I now understand the world a tiny little bit better, even though I probably don’t.

Most importantly, I learned that a new country can feel like home rather quickly, which brings up the question: ‘What is home?’. And why do we settle for the ‘home’ that was provided to us at birth? Why don’t we look around when we’re 18, research countries we might want to live in, and pick the one we like best?

The village of Motonui is all you need.

I realise there are hurdles, like Visa procedures (Mister at the South African embassy, if you’re reading this: I hope you get an itch you can’t scratch!). There are financial challenges and we have family & friends we don’t want to leave behind. But there are things we can gain. New friends we can meet. Most of us don’t even consider the possibility. I know I didn’t.

Autumn has hit my home town in full force. The forests take on beautiful shades of browns and reds. And yet… I cannot help but feel annoyed by how Dutch nature is no longer wild. It’s fenced off by people who want their own private piece of nature, sold by our institutions to fill gaps in government spending. The few deers we still have get bitten by dogs; the rare wolf that wants to return gets shot.

Dutch forests sold off
Large areas of our forests have been sold off and are now ‘private’. I hope the 2 people that get to enjoy each of these areas are really happy as they go for a stroll on their property.

I miss South Africa’s nature reserves. Long runs on never ending beaches. The beautiful mountains with their breath-taking views. Moana understands, I’m sure.

Naturally, as the movie progresses Moana finds adventure beyond what she can swallow. Upon completion of her mission she returns home, overjoyed to be back and see the place she calls home again. Her friends and family await her with excitement.

Her wise father, Chief of the village, is right when he sings:

You must find happiness right where you are.

He must have done his fair share of mindfulness. And I… should focus on the beautiful colours of Autumn and the wonderful singing talent of my 3 year old. ‘Make waaaaay’!

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