Our tour guide introduced me to an Australian Aborigine concept; the Aborigine believed that one’s spirit is connected to the land that they are born. They could never understand how the English traveled thousands of miles to live in a foreign land, thereby never really estimating their need to “conquer” their land.
I have heard similar stories from my paternal grandmother, my Dadi, how she believed that her soul was connected with her land of birth in Kumilla. Even though she lived in Dhaka for most of her life, I have heard the fond stories about her parents’ home in rural Bangladesh.
For many of us, living in lands far away from where we were born, such a statement – sentiment, is both unsettling and disturbing; we search for meaning in the land where we live, but parts of us remain connected to where we were born.
Does this mean that our spirits are fractured? Distributed into many little spirits? Or is it simply that our spirits have lost connection with mother Earth?
Since these are almost impossible questions to answer, using rational facts and figures, one must develop their own hypothesis – paradigm – to give meaning to our existence. One may look at this as another form of rationalization (to fit our needs).
In this lifetime, I believe, I have experienced five different births.
Of course, there is the physical birth. But it feels as if I was re-born the day I stepped foot in the United States and made this my new home. The day we married, my life took on another new dimension; the day each of our children were born, I became a new person.
Maybe that’s why, I feel happy in all these birthplaces that my life: Columbia, Missouri; Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Toledo, Ohio and Denver, Colorado – in addition to Dhaka, Bangladesh.
My soul is connected to all these places.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Columbia, Missouri – after almost ten years. On the sunny fall morning, as I drove by Cramer Hall, or walked into Brady Commons, my heart beat faster. I could see myself walking with a backpack, exploring my new gift of life. Like a child learning to play with a new set of blocks. I was instantly happy.
It’s amazing, how life turns, like a river, in different angles, sometimes abruptly – others, modestly – very rarely with a strategic plan of its own.
Fractured or not, distributed or not, my spirit has been enriched by its five re-births . Like the meandering river of life, my spirit maybe enriched by the dry air of Denver or the moist rainfall of the Erie – the calm of Lake Winnebago or the simplicity of the Missouri.
I could not have planned the journey of my traveling spirit. I just happened to be there, as the river of my life turned in one direction or another.
It’s difficult to project where exactly this river will meet the ocean; so far, I have been fortunate by its different turns, in beautiful places – surrounded by friends and family that care. When that day arrives, today or tomorrow, I pray, the many layers of my spirit are nourished by the smells, sights, friendships and melodies of its many births and transcends peacefully to (at least) its five places of birth.