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  • Writer's pictureSeema Banerjee

‘A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for’ William G T Shedd

‘Not a chance!’ we cried unanimously. ‘Impossible’. The fact that my husband had even made such a crazy suggestion seemed incredulous to me and the children as we vehemently protested. There was no way we would ever consider moving out of our home and walk away from the cushy life that we had built. This is how fearful change is. It is all consuming and takes monstrous proportions as it settles in the mind and taunts us; giving rise to feelings of apprehension, scepticism, dread and sheer panic.

Change often comes uninvited when you are least expecting it. At that point in time, it felt as though we were having a dream run in life. After having painstakingly and passionately renovated our 300 year old farmhouse in Britain, we were only just beginning to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Our hearts swelled with pride as we flicked the pages of a prestigious lifestyle magazine. Our home had earned a place in a 4 page glossy feature on ‘Beautiful Homes in Cheshire’. I have to admit, this external endorsement tasted sweet; like a cherry on the cake.

My yoga classes were full and as a teacher it was deeply gratifying to have an ever-growing list of students. I had secured my monthly yoga column for a British yoga magazine, and was thoroughly enjoying it. The children were happy and well settled at school having formed strong bonds with their long time friends. Our home witnessed innumerable play dates and sleepovers. Whilst most mums moaned about their ‘taxi service’, I have to say even my school runs were pleasurable. Each weekday I drove through the scenic, winding country lanes with Adele blaring from my stereo as we sang along or talked about issues plaguing the childrens’ lives at the time. I loved our village community where I could nip into the neighbours’ house if I ever ran out of sugar and ended up enjoying a cup of tea, homemade biscuits and a healthy dose of village gossip!  During Christmas, we would pick a pine tree from Delamere forest, a neighbour would hand knit me a wreath or an ornament and another would bake me fresh cakes. There was no dearth of laughter and food and drink in our home as we enjoyed the invigorating company of close friends. We had summer barbecues, with music wafting through the hidden speakers in the garden as the children bounced on the trampoline or glided down the long water slide or fed the fish in our garden pond. In the cold winters, it was immensely pleasurable to sweat in our home sauna ( that we had installed in the garden upon the suggestion of a Finnish friend who came to dinner one evening)  as we watched the icy frost dangling down from the trees. In short, life seemed idyllic. As for my husband; his career was soaring as he was considered the ‘blue eyed boy’ of his company ( ironically with his dark brown eyes) and he was on a steady uphill career climb. Now, sitting around our kitchen table he had just dropped a bombshell on us! It is no surprise that we were doing everything in our power to resist this threat of change.

Change is a well established fact of life. Not only is change the only constant in life, it is inevitable too. Take the process of ageing, the different phases of life, relationships, circumstances, literally everything in life undergoes change. It is inescapable. And yet we resent it, fight it and pretend that we can stop it. Because change arouses fear. It makes us worry about the future and brings to light our deepest insecurities. It casts doubt as though our life will spin out of control and will we ever be able to cope? But hold the pause button and think for a moment – how can we be so certain that our present life is better than an unexplored future…without even giving it a chance? This was the rationale behind my husband’s thinking as he tried to urge us to give it a shot. His company in the UK had been in the throes of change too, having been taken over by a Japanese firm. This had changed the equation at his workplace resulting in restructure of the management, its strategy and direction. Unfortunately, this no longer aligned with my husband’s future career goals, and he decided that it was time for him to make a change. Moreover, at the time not just Britain but the entire world was reeling under the shock of  global recession, so finding a dream job was in short supply and extremely hard to come by. In light of the above situation, an exciting, financially rewarding job opportunity knocked on his door, except… it was based in India. 

After much debate and deliberation, we finally plucked the courage to take this giant leap of faith into the unknown. Although, both my husband and I are familiar with India, (having grown up there) people tend to overlook the psychological impact of repatriation. Many wandering expats will agree with me that repatriation is often harder than being an expat because of the expectations that people have of you when you return. They often jump to form judgements about you if you no longer adhere to their expectations of a past version of yourself. They fail to recognise the different life experience that you have had which has shaped your current thoughts. Isn’t it hard to fit into shoes that you have outgrown ? This is a theme close to my heart and I will write about Repatriation in a separate article. 

Having taken this bold decision to move, there were voices from all around. Mostly well meaning, concerned voices reminding me of the uncertainties, the doubts and the scariness of it all. What it if didn’t work? Was it worth the risk? Was it fair on the children to inflict change upon them?  I have to agree that whilst change is scary but succumbing to fear which holds us back from making the change seems even more frightening.

At a time when I was battling with my decision making, as a sudden stroke of luck, I came across an inspiring story which proved to be a game changer and set me in the right direction. It is the story of a King who is gifted a majestic Eagle but much to his dismay, the bird just clings to a branch and refuses to fly. The disappointed King summons everyone he can think of that can make this Eagle fly- from soldiers, to magicians to musicians and doctors but to no avail. Finally a woodcutter presents himself before the King and confidently proclaims that he can indeed make the bird fly. With a blow of his axe he promptly chops off the branch that the bird was perched on and as the court watches in bewilderment, the Eagle finally  soars up high into the sky. Sometimes we are trapped by our own branches of comfort that we never want to leave until life delivers us a sudden blow in some form or the other, and that compels us to finally spread our wings and fly- just like we were meant to.

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