Josna Rege

463. Love, Longing, and Living in the Moment

In Stories on July 12, 2021 at 11:17 am

Still learning to live more fully in the moment while honoring and treasuring my past; a lifelong challenge for most of us, and particularly so for migrants.

Tell Me Another

This is the twelfth entry in a month-long series, Fifty years in the United States: An immigrant’s perspective, as part of the annual Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Love, Longing, and Living in the Moment.

Loch Lomond, looking south from Ben Lomond (Wikimedia Commons)

For migrants, longing comes with the territory. Many migrants—especially women—did not choose to leave a place they loved, where they themselves were known and loved, and where many of their nearest and dearest still live; it is only natural, then, that they would yearn for home and for those they left behind. At the same time, they must love and protect those who migrated with them and who may be particularly vulnerable to the vicissitudes of everyday life. Finally, they have a duty to themselves, to allow themselves to live in the present, to open themselves to the possibility of love flowering anew.

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  1. Lovely post Josna

  2. A nice reminiscent post. In today’s world, a huge majority of the population would be immigrants in way or the other. Though I am in India, I left my hometown in 1988, and I have been in many cities.
    I like that thought of the “present”. It’s true. That’s the right and healthy approach.

    • Thank you, Pradeep. Yes, you are quite right that a migration within the boundaries of a nation is nonetheless a migration. So many people have had to pull up roots and move for one reason or another. And every city has its own distinct culture that has to be learnt and adjusted to. We have been required to become more flexible, and I suppose that though it can be painful it is a good thing.

  3. Hari OM
    I have never seen or heard that poem… One could be ‘antsy’ about it and make clear that the Scots have their own languages despite the English attempt to eradicate them. The country used to have its own measure, but still has its own legal system and was able to retain its own banks and notes … which every Englishman thinks of as illegal and refuses to accept south of the border… after Wales, we were the second subjugated nation in the beginnings of what became the English empire, later named ‘British’.

    But other than that, this poem attempts to suggest there is no cultural difference between the two largest countries of what was supposed to be an equal union. I have two close English friends, one who has lived in the Bonny Land for over two decades, and neither of them accepts that there are cultural differences.

    There is something in the English psyche that absolutely refuses to understand difference and the benefits it brings to society. They just want the rest of the world to fit into their view of it.

    Of course, after that rant, I appreciate this ditty could also be about ‘the grass is always greener’… and the English boy might as well have stayed ‘at home.’

    As one who has travelled widely and settled variously, I believe wholeheartedly in merging with the culture into which one has moved; not only does that show willing and understanding from the side of the ‘newbie’ but permits those who have had to make room the opportunity to show their best and aid the integration. When I see others complaining that things are not the same as ‘at home’, it surely makes my blood curdle!!! Even in Australia – where the English arrive so sure it will be the same, but with better weather – they come to realise there are some deep cultural differences and there are adjustments to be made for successful long-term life down under. There was also some interesting goings-on at the ashram – but that anecdote will appear in due course in my menoculayshunal posts (memoirs – of sorts).

    &*> forgive the rambling return – it’s a huge topic!!! Pranaams, YAM xx

    • How obtuse of me, YAM, not to have considered this poem as a case of British cultural imperialism! I ought to have known better. I learnt just that one verse as a child, and wasn’t even aware that it was actually the last of four verses (and, apparently, by John Keats, though I would never have associate it with him). I always thought it had that simple “grass is greener” message, but with the fraught British relationship to Scotland, that’s probably quite unlikely.

      I share your feelings about the way England remains “home” for some of the English, even when they have lived a lifetime away, even when they weren’t even born there. Although I’ve never been to Australia, I gather that there is a strong loyalist element that wants to maintain strong ties with Britain and sees Australian culture as inferior. I was disappointed in that referendum some years ago when Australians voted to maintain their ties with Britain rather than to start seeing themselves as independent–or if anything, closer to Asia than to Europe.

      I sympathize with refugee or immigrant groups who band together for mutual support because they have to contend with racism and xenophobia. They would assimilate more easily if they were welcomed with open arms, but they are seen as perpetual outsiders because they look “different.” Like you, I do get frustrated by immigrants and expatriates who continue to mingle only with their own kind and refuse to adopt any of the ways of their adopted home. But for my part, it has taken me decades to start feeling American, despite the fact that English is my mother tongue and I don’t face racism in any substantial way. And as to the question of where home is . . .

      Love the rambling–thank you! Come back often! And I look forward to reading more about your life in the ashram in your other blog. xo J

      • Hari Om
        …I got intrigued when you said Keats – and find the first three verses almost nonsense rhyme; one suspects ‘the boy’ was himself!

        Re OZ – not loyalist but royalist; the referendum was about dropping the Queen as head of state. Politically, OZ has been independent since 1901. However, as you say, there is a certain group that just won’t let go of the apron strings.

        Yes, it is one thing to culturally hang together, quite another to make of one’s group a ‘clique’ and thus appear a threat. Where Love should ride, fear often rules.

        thanks for the conversation!!! Yxx

  4. A very thoughtful and inspiring post, Josna, thanks. That pull or tug of war between living in the Now (for us Zoom, social media, streaming, as well as holidays, greater awareness of global matters, and so on) and what the Welsh call hiraeth (nostalgia, homesickness, wistfulness for a way of life and friends long gone) can get more painful with each passing day. If love happens to be the glue that binds the competing forces, or the lubricant that eases the ache, then we are indeed lucky.

    • Hiraeth. I just looked up how to pronounce it. It sounds and feels–as it should–as if it needs a cure.
      How beautifully put, Chris, your reflections on love, and how, if we are lucky, it can “bind” or “ease.” I know I will read this again and think on it. Thank you.

  5. Hari OM
    Well, you got me first with that picture o’ the Bonny Land! I understand fully that sense of longing. Although I have been able, mostly, to live in the present, I do find now that I am here (not so far from those very shores) that my heart (and mind) tend to reach out to my adopted and beloved country, Australia, where I became my full self. As an immigrant, I never once looked back here and had never thought I would ever return. Events of life dictated otherwise. Now, back here, I do feel the roots of my being – yet, I am as a stranger here. As you state close to the end of your post, I had recently accepted that it is necessary to bring myself fully here, or there will be joy squandered… YAM xx

    • Important point, YAM, that I probably oversimplified. In moving, the migrant may feel some pangs of loss; but then again they may also be growing pains. And there is also wonder, exhilaration, and new possibilities. Perhaps all our life is a cycle of departures and returns and new departures. And still we remain strangers; not quite at home.

      Did you have to learn this poem as a child (or perhaps they didn’t teach it in Scotland):
      There was a naughty Boy,
      And a naughty Boy was he,
      He ran away to Scotland
      The people for to see –

      Then he found
      That the ground
      Was as hard,
      That a yard
      Was as long,
      That a song
      Was as merry,
      That a cherry
      Was as red –
      That lead
      Was as weighty,
      That fourscore
      Was as eighty,
      That a door
      Was as wooden
      As in England –

      So he stood in his shoes
      And he wonder’d,
      He wonder’d,
      He stood in his shoes
      And he wonder’d.

      Here’s to joy!

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