Solstalgia:becoming a stranger in a familiar land


When we travel we expect change. Change of scenery, attitudes, behaviours- beliefs its all up for grabs and through the acceptance of the need to  flow with uncertainty, we learn how to become flexible, let old needs and self definitions die, allow new ones to emerge. But what happens when we stay in the same spot and the ground -both literal and metaphoric-changes beneath our feet?
It seems to me that this is happening more and more in modern society.Professor Glen Albrecht of Murdoch University coined the term “Solstalgia” with the given understanding of the sadness which occurs when what we thought was certain, durable permanent, changes before our very eyes and we have no control over it. Take the dispossession and exile of the Indigenous people who lived in Australia for over forty thousand years.The land which had sustained them, body, mind and spirit, was stolen from them through the increasing occupation of European settlement. The land still existed but their relationship to it had been brutally severed causing a deep grief which has echoed through the generations


. Other examples of this phenomenon exist in different parts of the country with different situations and groups of people. Take farmers for existence, who are battling drought and climate change on an unprecedented level. The land which formed the earth beneath the family farm has changed forever with new types of plants and constant out of season disruption to the cycles of life. Then there is the sadness associated with the physical changes which must occur as we age or the loss of our mental acuity.And of course solstagia for the nation we 8nce were politically.


“Everything Changes” as the Buddha said and yet so many of us have difficulty with this statement.
Before I started travelling, I had a very ordered (ok it was fixed and I was stuck) life. There was a place for everything-you should have seen my cutlery drawer-and it stayed where it was put. So did I until my epiphany; about the shortness of life and how I alone could create adventure and risk in my life.


We travellers  have an expectation that when we return to a familiar place or home, it will for the most part but really it never can be the same. Even when it appears that things are the same ,you will have changed. This can be cause for the wistful sadness of solstalgia or gratitude for our growth.

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