After traveling for seven months, I finally stopped back home for a few weeks in Los Angeles. While I was there, I went to visit my old office to see some of my coworkers. Immediately, when walking into the building, I felt butterflies and sort of a sense of loss in my stomach. It was the same feeling I had carried with me for the first few months of my trip abroad. The same kind of feeling you feel when you see your ex for the first time since you broke up and you still aren’t over them. Or when you move to a new city and feel homesick because you miss your family and friends.
If you don’t know me, before I left, that office was my home. Really. You don’t understand, I pretty much actually lived there. I pulled many all nighters there, took showers there, got ready for first dates there (well more like fifty first dates), ate most of my meals there, laughed there, cried there, and developed some of my deepest friendships there. It wasn’t just a job for me. It was my life.
focusing on the rearview
When I decided to leave, it was the hardest decision I had ever had to make. But I felt that it was time. I knew there were bigger and better things waiting for me on the other side. But still, for months after I left, even while halfway across the globe, there were times when I would sit there and wonder if I made the right decision. I longed to feel the same feelings I felt while working there. The excitement and the intensity. And walking back into that office building seven months later, these are the feelings that came rushing back and filled my soul.
In the beginning, I had contemplated ending my trip early and going back to work there because I missed it so much. I even talked to recruiters a few times while I was on the road. It was not until coming back that I realized for the first time that it wasn’t the actual job I missed. Or the building. It was everything that happened while I was inside of that building. The challenges I had faced. Both personally and professionally. The struggles I went through and how I overcame them. The friendships I made. All of the feelings I associated with the job and the building. That is what I was really attached to.
It is similar to how I feel about Los Angeles in general. The memories of weekends spent sitting on the floor at a friend’s house, everyone playing instruments and jamming out together. The late nights spent sitting on the beach by the lifeguard stand, smoking a joint, and having deep conversations about life with my best friend. The kind of moments where you stop, look around, and think, ‘Man. Life is good.’ The moments where your heart feels happy.
IT IS OUR ATTACHMENT THAT KEEPS US STUCK
We often become attached to certain people, places, or things because we associate them with the feelings we felt while we were with them. The comfort or confidence or joy we felt in their presence. We can’t let go because we want to feel that way again.
This happens in many relationships. One or both of you agree that it is time to move on, so you do. But you just can’t seem to let go. Even if the relationship was shitty and you know it isn’t good for you, you hang on. You miss the intensity of it and all of the feelings you felt while in it. The comfort. The growth you experienced while being with that person. But then you go back and it isn’t the same. You thought you missed the person, and of course maybe you did, but what you missed more was how you felt during that time in your life when you were with them.
For me, I know deep down that if I went back to my old job, it wouldn’t be the same. There are only a few people I know left on the team and the job has completely changed. But it was still hard for me to let go of because of how much it shaped who I am today. While I sat there at my old desk and relished in the memories, I realized that they are still mine. I will always have them with me no matter where I go.
The feelings are what our heart really longs for. And these feelings are created by moments. Now. In the present. It isn’t the place. Or the person. But the moments. Once we realize that we can and will continue to have more of them, and that we can have them anywhere, with anyone. It will set us free.
WHAT WE ARE ATTACHED TO CAN SHOW US THE WAY
That random stranger you meet and end up having a three hour conversation with that leaves you feeling refreshed. The time when you almost get kicked out of a van in the middle of nowhere in Thailand because you lost your sticker but someone fights for you to stay. Or when you start a new job and finally understand what you are doing. These are the moments we crave. The feelings we want to feel. It is not the guitar or office building, or particular person that brings them. It is the moments.
There are places I stay for only a few days but am genuinely sad to leave. But it is never about the place. It is about what I experienced in that place. The connections I have made. It is the same reason why I no longer believe someone when they say not to visit a certain country or city. Because whether you recommend a place doesn’t so much have to do with the actual place, but more the experiences you had there. And believe me, I can be in the worst circumstances while traveling but if I am surrounded by cool people, I will always associate that country with the people and what we went through together.
Our brain tends to play our past over and over inside of our heads, much like watching a home movie of our happy or sad times. But like watching any other movie, just because we see it, it doesn’t mean we are actually experiencing it. It only adds to our attachment. Instead of watching replays, it is useful to recognize where you are stuck or what you can’t seem to let go of. Recognize what feelings you are craving from your past and open yourself up to feeling them in the future.
FEED YOUR SOUL WITH THE FEELINGS YOU CRAVE
It took me months to feel completely excited about my decision to leave Los Angeles. And even then, it wasn’t until coming back that I was able to truly gain a fresh perspective. I didn’t want to let go of this office. Of this place. Of those memories. But I now realize it wasn’t the place I was attached to. And what helped me to realize this is that I can now look back and see that I started to feel the same feelings when traveling. I am now opening myself up to a world where it is possible to feel these feelings anywhere I am. I am no longer attached to a place. Or specific people or objects. I am attached to the entire experience.
Instead of wanting to relive the past, I am now thankful for it. And use it to create an even better future. Because missing my life in Los Angeles and longing to feel the feelings I felt while I was there have fueled my passion to experience life in a deeper way. To continue to fill my life with experiences that change me. And to inspire others to do the same. When I left, I was sad because I didn’t want it to end. Now I realize it was only the beginning. Instead of one office building, I now have the whole entire world as my home.
As cliche as it sounds, home really is where the heart is. If you can separate your feelings from the person, place, or thing you are attaching them to, you are able to take them with you, anywhere you go. Once you learn to keep the memory of your experiences close to your heart and realize they will never leave you, you will always be home. No matter where you are.