I attended an amazing exhibition recently, which explored the theme of displacement – of people finding themselves living outside their homeland, usually through no choice of their own, and often with violence and trauma involved.
This exhibition reflected my own situation – an offspring of parents who came to Australia from Ukraine, to escape the atrocities of war and suppression. My parents’ generation gathered almost ghetto like in certain parts of the city, and did their best to carry on the traditions and culture of their homeland. The offspring (like myself) had one foot in the Ukrainian culture and one foot in the Australian culture, often feeling like not really belonging to either.
In my fifty five years around the sun, I have lived in many different regions and immersed myself deeply in the study of Eastern philosophy and healing arts. I can easily say that my identity is multifaceted, and although I have a heritage which I acknowledge, I am not entirely defined by this.
My parents’ attitude towards finding themselves displaced, was on the opposite ends of the spectrum. My mother was forever pining for ‘the old country’ and her family ‘back home’, which would have been heart breaking for her. My father on the other hand, embraced the new country and was forever grateful for the opportunities and freedom. His only complaint was that the colours of the Australian bush are somewhat drab, compared the lush greenery of Europe that he was used to. Otherwise as an artist, he found lots of inspiration in his new country, and was forever grateful to his new country for the safe haven and lifestyle that it offered. One of his legacies to Australia, was a sculpture which he designed together with his brother, to commemorate the plight of immigrants in Australia in the mid twentieth century. This sculpture stands proud in Fairfield, New South Wales, which continues to be a hub for migrants and refugees from all over the world.
As for me, I have embraced Australia as my home, with an awareness of my Ukrainian heritage, which has been strengthened since the war in Ukraine broke out in early 2022. I also feel very much at home with the Indian and Chinese cultures, having studied Yoga and Oriental Therapies, and as a water baby, felt at home in the South Pacific when I spent time there. I am aware that I had a past life there.
As long as I can connect with the land of where I find myself, I can feel at home.
The land is waiting to embrace you. The land holds the key to your sense of belonging.
Remember your heritage for this enriches your story. Try to be grateful for wherever you are right now. Give yourself permission to adapt to wherever you find yourself, especially if the choice is not entirely yours. Be gentle with yourself, allow yourself to grieve, to find connections, to find your tribe. Allow yourself to find your feet again. Walk barefoot on the earth or the sand.
If you would like a reminder to Flourish Wherever You Are, the above design created by yours truly, can be purchased as an artboard, on t-shirts and other products.