Published: June 21st 2012June 21st 2012
First of all, my dear reader, I feel obliged to explain the seemingly sad title of this post and why I don't consider it sad at all.
When I speak of the place I used to call home I speak about Italy first, my birth place of Lana in the extreme north of the country second. Well, honestly this is where we encounter the first little lie of this blog. When I say, I used to 'call home', I actually ment that I was born and lived there for the first 20 years of my existence on the lonely planet. There is nothing especially wrong with the place (apart that it is very very rural and provincial which does not necessarily fit to my character), but even if I had a great family and good friends there to make my time a little more interesting, it just really never felt I really belong there.
At the tender age of 20 I left my town for the first time in order to study in the nearby city of Verona, place which still has captured my heart and gives me the closest feeling to home I ever had. Why all this
Souveniers from far away..
need to go away and why this weird, seemingly inborn feeling of alteration? I found a possible answer in a very interesting book by Greg A. Madison, called the 'End of Belonging'.
It explains the possible phenomenon of ‘existential migration’, a vonlutary act of leaving home in order to explore the world and ones’ deeper self. In contrast to a common migrant the existential migrant does not leave home due to economic reasons, on the contrary, mostly the quality of life of the migrant is notably lower abroad than it had been back home.
Why do these invidivuals leave home then? German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger gives a possible solution with his notion of ‘unheimlich’ (uncanny), a feeling of not belonging and questioning of existence, deeply rooted in every human being. Some people react to this uncertainty with attachment to what they call home, which can be a place or simply a set of values and social network they are attached to. Other human beings, especially sensible to the ‘call of the uncanny’ feel an urgent need to leave the familiar in order to explore the unknown. For these individuals home feels ‘oppressive, suffocating, boring and limiting’, a
limitation and stagnation of the self.
While there is no logical causal explanation to this phenomenon (why does one of the brothers leave, the other one stays), the book suggests that this inborn feeling is detached from the context of the migrants home and is mostly present since the early ages. This migration process is connected to negative and hard to deal with feelings such as nostalgia and loosing every notion of belonging (the place of departure changes with the years and even a returning home would leave the subject in a limbus between foreign and known).
Existential migration is not a matter of choice, most interrogated subjects state that they ‘had to leave’, physical stagnation is compared to mental stagnation and this is unbearable for the existential migrant. Many subjects choose jobs where they can at least switch between stability and change in order to deal with this form of ‘angst’.
Why is this book so important for me? Well, I have to admit that I am a 100% existential migrant. Almost every line of the book seems to speak directly to and about me.
Born in the cross-cultural area of South Tyrol in Northern
Border between South Tyrol and Trentino region
Italy since birth I was trapped in between the Italian and Austrian culture. Most of my fellow Souty Tyroleans react with a rejection of both countries and an exagerated sense of ‘pride’ and ‘local culture’, trying to underlinde their differences with both Austrian and Italian culture. This has resulted in a society which desperately tries to create ‘something of their own’ and lately in an unbearable degree of xenophobia (probably born from a minority complex).
As long as I can remember I have reacted with a total rejection of what i consider my ‘home’ culture, even in early childhood when I did not know the political situation I felt a deep antipathy for the local tradition. As long as I can remember i dreamt about adventuring myself to unknown places, big cities, countless opportunities and the very close-minded local culture obviously has not reacted really well on my ‘being different’. Looking back to my good friends which have remained in my place of birth, I notice that they always have been and still are different, I would say ‘voluntary outcasts’ from the local culture. Now almost 10 years ago I left my hometown in order to pursue my dream
What used to be be my room..
and faced with the countless difficulties of an existential migrant I have anyway never and will never regret my decision.
Another, more simple explanation, would be that I just feel more possibilities in a big city than I do in the countryside :)
Now that I am preparing for Hong Kong and came back for roughly a month to see some of my still best friends and my family, I can finally visit the place with my soul in peace. Why is that? Well, because I think I finally know that I will not make my living here but rather keep some special people as a memory..
Take care fellows!
There are more photos below