Our local bookshops has a wonderful display of globes at the moment. They hang from the ceiling, sit on shelves and fill the entire window display. Lit up and softly glowing, they inspire passers by to think about the world of books within.
When I first walked in and saw them hanging there, I did what I always do when faced with a globe. I reached out and touch my home of Canberra. Not just pointed to it but rested the tip of my finger on the city for a few seconds. It was an automatic gesture and one about which I have never thought until now. As a nomad, perhaps I need a physical connection with that one spot on the globe where I can truly say I belong. Ex pats love the change and the excitement and unpredictability of jobs and locations, or at least I do. But clearly there is something inside me which still needs to connect. Touching my home city grounds me just enough that I feel I can carry on with my rootless lifestyle. There is a home somewhere, a place I belong, a place that would welcome me back if things went wrong.
As I touched the globe, I asked the staff casually if everyone does this. ‘No,’ said one, who lives here permanently, ‘I always look straight for the places I want to travel to.’
It made sense. For those of us who are unfixed, we ground ourselves. For those who are rooted, we extend ourselves. Faced with an array of globes, the two of us had very different perspectives. One day we will finally retire to our home in Australia and know for sure that with each changing season we will still be in our home, living among people who still be in theirs. And maybe, in that far off future, when faced with a globe, I will immediately stretch out to touch Hawaii or Switzerland or Jordan. But I hope I will remember to take a moment and brush my finger, however fleetingly, against Canberra, in gratitude for the fact that, through all these years of travel, it was always there.