I spent three weeks at my two homes in Wayanad, Kerala. First with my parents and then a few days with my sister and her family. Apart from being my home they are also beautiful homestays that welcome strangers in, who often leave as friends.
Now, back in the concrete jungle of Gurugram and thinking about this precious time back home, I remembered a quote that I had jotted down. “When a guest enters a home, the home changes…”
Rainer Maria Rilke wrote this powerful line in ‘Letters to a young poet’. He was talking about the value of difficulty and how sorrow or sadness when acknowledged and embraced is often a powerful way forward. Out of nowhere, this quote popped up in my mind again. More in a literal context because my trip was filled with happiness. The sadness was only felt when our time together drew to a close.
As I sat reminiscing about the trip, missing the quiet calm of Kerala it occurred to me that my presence back at home had changed the routine of my family in so many ways that I probably did not even realise. We were not there on holiday. Our WFH routine required a pretty strict timetable to be followed. Even though we are family our presence brings about a shift in the homes for the duration of our stay and possibly even beyond.
Guests come in all shapes and sizes. Some we welcome into our lives. Others we grin and bear. My mental meandering about my time back home extended to the year gone by. I have been on quite a journey in the last year. A majority of that journey, travelled only in my mind, as I have like most of the world been in lockdown mode. Yet in many ways I have travelled far and wide. Changed jobs. Became an empty nester. Survived Covid. Added a new skill, by becoming a life and leadership coach. Each one of these guests that came and occupied my mind space have changed my home and me in so many ways.
As I look back on it I now realise that I was tuned in and open to following the signs and lessons that each of these guests brought into my home. I was keen to find the intersections. Explore new paths. Find new ways forward. To do this, as Rainer said, one must be open and willing to explore the gift of change that each new guest brings into the home.
Once you let the guest in so many things change. Often the changes are anticipated but many are also unforeseen. Energy shifts. Some guests stay for a short while and leave their mark for a long time. Some guests stay longer and become friends. And then there are those that become family, touching my life from afar even when they leave my home. Invite new experiences into your life and allow the changes to happen.
This is my message to myself and an invitation to anyone who reads my column. Stay open to all the experiences that a guest in your life catalysis. Invite a few new ones in. In conclusion, the most important advice of all … tell those guests that have overstayed their welcome that it’s time to leave. It’s your home and you make the rules. Create your own homestay experience. Go on. Try it out. Be my guest.
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