Taken

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Moving overseas has taught me how susceptible the heart is to being taken. And overtaken for that matter.

The feelings of independence and freedom that traveling can give some people are rather addictive. Conquering the obstacles of culture and language and newness is an awesome feeling. Bridging the communication gap and making friends who at first seem to have nothing in common with you changes your life forever. 
Exploring new places and interacting with foreign faces in other countries are both experiences that one is not keen to forget. 
This is why there are so many deep and inspiring quotes about traveling:

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine 

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson 

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

My point is that there is so much with all this traveling that can simply take your heart. Your heart can be taken from place to place, and if you find no anchor, you might find yourself in a constant state of wandering from place to place. And every time, another relationship or location takes your heart.

It’s fun, the constant change of pace and place, the new friends and interesting people you meet, the places you go that make you feel like you’re in a magical world far away. Once something (or someone) takes you, you’re never the same.

But there’s another factor of being abroad that causes the human heart to be so susceptible to everything around it. One is away from home, family and friends, the familiar. The craving for relationship and stability, no matter how temporary, is strong. Humans need bonding and relationship, and bonding creates meaning and becomes an adventure when you travel.

Personally, I have found my heart taken by many places. Any new destination was another potential place to live. But soon I found myself always going back, always returning to my anchor. My anchor offered me peace and rest and the space I needed to meditate and clear my head. And it was not just a place I was returning to after every trip or venture, either. There were people, friends, other humans I started to consider family. My social independence was no longer my highest virtue.

My anchor is in Taiwan, specifically Ximen-ding in Taipei. I call this place home. I don’t know when or if I will ever leave. This place, for better or worse, has taken my heart. 

There is a tourist marketing slogan here that serves as the PERFECT description of what happens to many people who move to this country as a foreigner:

Taiwan Touch Your Heart.

It’s exactly what happened to me the day I got here. It was the people, the way the streets felt when I walked on them, the mystery of the language that months of Chinese class finally unlocked, the expressions on my students’ faces when I taught them English.

So I’m still here. Taken by all of it. And so much remains to be taken in. 

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”                                                                                                                    – Lin Yutang

My pillow is in Taiwan.

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