The last few days, well actually the last few years, I have thought a lot about the meaning of home.
Many years ago a good friend moved to Africa, then Paris and then back to Zurich. I remember asking him curiously, “Why did you move back? Why didn’t you stay out there and explore more?”
And he said, “It was great for a while, but all my family and friends are here. They are what matters most. So I will keep seeing as much of the world as I can. But my home base will always be Zurich.”
I didn’t understand him at the time. In 2004, when this photo was taken, I had already lived thirteen years in Zurich. It had become a true home. I was happy. Yet, I was restless and could feel my blood stirring. I kept wondering, “Can this be all? There is so much else out there for me to explore.”
Then, starting from October 2005, explore I did. Over the next few years I lived and worked in the Maldives, Belgium, Macau, Canada, Hong Kong, and Malta. I travelled all over Asia and Europe, through some of Africa and North America. All the while looking for home, but never finding it.
Living in Malta now, I can appreciate the kindness of its people. I can savour the scents and sights of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. But as I have done so many times over the last ten years, I can feel my thoughts returning to Zurich…
Every year since I left, I traveled back to the charming Swiss metropolis at least once. Each time it felt like an old comfortable shoe which slipped back onto my feet so very comfortably. I walked along the lake, sipped latte macchiato with old friends, went to the open air cinema, the vibrant Niederdorf, rode around in trams, and took in the sights along the river Limmat. My heart beat faster, emotion seemed to overwhelm me, and I had tears in my eyes many times over.
It took writing my memoirs and looking at my own life story in its entirety though, for me to truly learn and understand. It took showing my wife my beloved Swiss haven, and her telling me, “Liam, this place is so inspiring. And you can’t seem to shut up ever since we’re here. Your eyes sparkle. I haven’t seen you so happy in a long time.”
Is this what is called coming full circle? I think I understand now. Searching far away was necessary for me to learn, grow and begin to know myself. It was essential to truly come to appreciate what had been there for me all along.
Zurich, with all my friends and family whom I love and care for is my home and always will be, no matter where I go. In many ways, it is time to come home. This time not alone, but with a wonderful partner in life. Knowing this, I can feel something deep within me finally settling into a state of contentment. W.B. Pitkin said, “Life begins at forty.” Maybe, in a very profound way, for me it truly does.