Last weekend, on the spur of the moment, I drove to the Oregon Coast. It’s just under an hour and half drive from home. I booked a hotel with an oceanfront view, which is the best way to go because you can spend half the time in your hotel room and still feel that the trip was well worth it.
I sat on the beach, eating clam chowder and a shrimp sandwich; later, relaxing in my room and listening to the sound of the ocean, I watched the waves. In the morning, as I walked on the beach, a flock of sandpipers busily dodged the surf. These creatures, with their spindly little legs, are very cool to watch, and they definitely work as a team!
On the beach in the morning, wearing my hoodie…looking and feeling like a monk.
An awesome flock of sandpipers!
Enjoying the waves from my hotel room window.
Having traveled extensively and lived, studied, and done research abroad, I know how central the concept of “coming home” is to that experience. Of course, when you return to “life as usual,” you bring new memories, perhaps new distant friends, and hopefully personal growth. You might have reverse culture shock or see your native land in a slightly different light; you might even have a great shift in perception. T.S. Elliot famously wrote, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time,” and Lin Yutang wrote, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” After spending weeks in places where I didn’t know anyone, I have appreciated just going to my local supermarkets and cafes, being greeted by familiar faces.