Nothing has changed.You leave for two years and make your way back to the great nation that created you only to find that it is in an eerily similar state to the one it was in which you left it. It is the same nation that provided you with an idea of your identity and the same democratic state that enabled you to live like you have over the past 24 months - traveling all over the world. It's the same place it always has been and while you certainly have a new appreciation for the United States, something is freaking you out about the Land of the Free/ Home of the Brave. Nothing is different. Sure, people are a couple years older and some of your friends have even gotten married. A few of your previous amigos have made babies. But they haven't grown like you. You can't relate on the same level anymore.
Regrettably, it seems your former associates still haven't even gotten to the point where they are interested in mental expansion, of any sort. It's not arrogance or a lack of humility on your part, it just is what it is. These....people....they aren't you anymore, or at least that’s what you think.The previous statements are an unfiltered version of the thoughts that I have had over the past few weeks after returning to Colorado for the first time in over 700 days. Undoubtedly, the somewhat cynical sentiments I have expressed here are shared with scores of other travelers, adventurers, and thrill seekers who undergo the process of re entry to their home country after a long time on the road. Prolonged life abroad. It really does change you forever. Once you have lived at least semi permanently in other parts of the world, your perspective will never be the same. You will never be the same. So how do you function back in the United States in your current state? For me, it’s about accepting the now. Let me explain: “Being present” and “living for the moment” are catch phrases that we’ve all heard a lot in recent times and I anticipate that although they may be a bit generic, these slogans will become increasingly more important to really understand as we progress further towards the greatest shift in human consciousness that has ever taken place. Being able to look at the now and at everything around you with complete objectivity is truly the only way to set yourself free and a viable strategy for any ex-pat undergoing the process of re entry to their home country. Pulling from the work of Eckhart Tolle and applying some of the core concepts from his book, “The Power of Now,” can help travelers understand a few things that will undoubtedly be of great assistance to them upon re entry to their home countries after a long time on the road. Here are a few things travelers need to understand to put the “now” strategy into play in order to to help themselves with successful re entry to the United States (or home country): 1.) Ironically enough, the feeling of separateness that you have and the fact that you cannot relate to people on the same level anymore when you first arrive back in your home country is a complete reflection of the fact that your ego may have actually become a little more powerful during your time abroad. Accepting the fact that the feeling of separateness you have isn’t really you (it’s your ego) and coming to terms with the fact that you are no better or worse than the people around you is essential. Although generally people who travel are very open-minded, too often those who have become so accustomed to living on the road develop a sense of pride when they come back home to the point where they actually think they’re better than others who haven’t done what they’ve done or seen what they’ve seen. The truth is, you’re no better (or worse) than anyone nor will you ever be. It’s just a fact. Come to terms with it. 2.) The initial point that I made about the perceived feeling of separateness upon initial re entry is important to talk about a little more in depth. In addition to realizing that you are no better or worse than anyone that you interact with when you unpack your bags for the first time back in your native land after a long period of time, it is even more important to realize that, in fact, they are you and you are them. Separateness is a complete illusion, we are all one and there is only a single great source of unity. The sooner you learn to look at every human being (even unenlightened beings) the same way you look at everything, the better off you’ll be. Adopting this viewpoint will make your life a whole lot easier the first time you run into someone who seems a little less “uncultured” than you during your initial phase of re entry. 3.) Another thing that helps tremendously when adjusting to being back in your home country is learning and truly understanding that all we ever have is the present moment. This is especially important for people who travel because often we give ourselves way too many pats on the back for the number of countries that we’ve traveled to or the awesome experiences that we’ve had, in the past. Realizing that your past is no more relevant than your future and that all we really have is the current moment in time will help you to gain the perspective you need to easily adjust to being back home. True adoption of this strategy will result in a lot less stress and apprehension. Although the “travel bug” will probably come back to bite you again sooner or later, keeping in mind that all we ever have is the now will help you keep yourself in check the next time you’re looking to make your big escape. 4.) In addition to fully accepting and living in the present moment, it is also of the utmost importance to practice a consistent state of inner being. When you come back home for the first time in a while, take a look around and smell the roses. Look at the trees or the concrete jungle that surrounds you and really try and accept it for what it is. Find beauty in the nature and modern marvels of human architecture that you have available to you at this present time. Try and look at everything objectively without assigning names to objects or identifying things with the words people have given to them over time. Just let everything be and if you practice this long enough you'll achieve a proper perspective that will be of great assistance to you throughout the process of re entry. Adopting a consistent habit of meditation 1-2 times a day will most certainly help you realize this more quickly. There are undoubtedly other ways to achieve the desired result of seamless and successful re entry to your home country after a long period of time abroad….the “now” strategy outlined above is just one of them. The end goal for any traveler making their way back to the United States or to their native country after an extended absence, however, should ultimately be to accept what is without judgement and learn to live with objectivity. Though it is certainly true that after having lived abroad and traveling extensively you may be more enlightened than old friends and family members, it is always important to keep in mind that there is something bigger that ties us all together and that you need to learn to forgive other people for what they don’t quite yet understand. The same feelings of love and unity that you experienced while living abroad are the same ones that you should bring back home with you. When you really think about it, nothing has changed during your time abroad and nothing ever will. There is only one present moment (which is part of the single Universe that we are all a part of) and travelers as well as all others should do their best to come to this understanding.