Wendell Berry, noted Kentucky author and poet, has made the observation that after a long plane trip, he allows three days for his soul to catch up with his body, and re-enter it. Three days of waiting and watching before delving back into work.
The late American Indian, Jose Hobday, once wrote that Indian mothers send their children out early in the morning, after they just wake up…to go for a walk, while humming their spirits back inside their bodies.
Today is day three for me. After being gone from home for five weeks, the re-adjustment phase appears to be nearing completion. This is not the first time I’ve experienced the “let down” upon arriving back home after a trip. Even after a short vacation, there is a period of time where I’m sort of fumbling through a fog and waiting for equilibrium to hit. Re-orienting. Trying to cheerfully fall back into a regular routine.
Though my body is back on solid home ground, my heart seems to be dragging behind like a dead weight, lost in space without a compass.
There’s the unpacking, the laundry, the stacks of mail to peruse, the feeling like you want to eat at midnight because jet lag has fully kicked in, but there’s nothing that hasn’t spoiled in the fridge. The running around on day two to stock the cupboards and return unanswered phone calls.
A change in environment is so refreshing and uplifting to the wanderlust soul. I don’t miss sleeping in my own bed. I don’t miss the familiarity of my own kitchen, the structure of a planned day, the pragmatics and rhythm of the daily domesticity of my home, which by the way, I love deeply. I can only liken it to a reverse culture shock in which everything back home is familiar and unchanging, while something inside of me has shifted and changed. I don’t quite feel like getting back to reality.
Or facing the unspoken resistance to falling back into a regular routine.
“Of all the adventures and challenges that wait on the vagabonding road, the most difficult can be the act of coming home.” -Rolf Potts
So on day three, I went for a nine-mile hike with friends, breathing in the cold clear air, charging up and down trails and rocks and riverbeds while admiring the golden turn of autumn. Turns out all I needed was a good tromp in the woods to comfortably feel my way back to old familiar patterns and get the productive work routine humming again.
Peaceful and ready to tackle the world, I’m re-discovering my groove, and in the fullness of time, am happy to be back home.