Livingstone could be taken away from Africa only when dead, so much did he love that part of the world. Casati was forcibly taken away from Africa, the only country in which he felt himself at home. All the remainder of his life, passed in Italy, his native land, he felt unhappy.
There could enumerated a great number of diverse examples of such seemingly incomprehensible attachments to a definite part of the world or even to a definite place. There are Spaniards by blood who cling to Havana or South America. There are Britons who have become forever attached to India. There are Swedes, Frenchmen, Russians who can breathe only the air of Asia.
In human life there are so many inexplicable attachments, from the loftiest to the most ordinary ones. On the one side we see attachment to the place of one's birth. There are many explanations for this. But how, then, can we surmise an unexplainable overpowering attraction to some far-removed place on the earthly globe? Often people get there as if by accident. And suddenly they find themselves, as it were, in their native element. After all, no one has expelled them from their birthplace. No wrongdoings or crimes have driven them beyond remote seas and mountains. It means there must have been some other reason, some other magnet, which compelled them to strive wholeheartedly to a place which no rational thinking could have advised.
Such attractions are entirely distinct from the proper desire of youth to set out somewhere, to get away, to spread their wings in new air. In the hour of such decisions the youthful seeker does not even give a thought as to precisely whither lie wishes to go. He only senses calls and perhaps cries of the heart, which draw him to learning something more. Usually in such seekers noble characters are revealed. They are voluntarily seeking some kind of test. These first days of independence will forever remain for them a beacon of vigor.
We send a mental greeting to one of our American friends, who, now in the twilight of his years, recalls with especial spirit and tenderness his first journey as a cabin boy on a ship. This wise old man has related to me how, in his turn, he sent his grandson alone on horseback from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, in order to accustom the ten-year-old boy to complete independence. Probably somewhere on that marked-off route unseen care was arranged for the young traveler, but, for all that, he had to carry out his task, left to his own resourcefulness and intelligence. And yet, travel in America which is unusually complex and filled with movement can at times be full of all sorts of surprises. Besides, there was the stipulation that the young horseman not only preserve his own health, but that he keep his mount in good condition. Doubtless such a trip will remain in his memory as long as he lives.
We all have also read about young people who have run away to America in quest of a new life. And in such cases the journey itself drew them, the search for new solutions of life, and not only the desire to find the longed-for place in which they would like to settle and concentrate on their work and life.
Quite different is the story about a five-year-old Tibetan lad who repeatedly and unrestrainedly went off to some home of his own. The boy would dress himself as if for a journey. He tied on his back a supply of food and a sacred book, and at a convenient moment he disappeared from the house. When his people rushed off to search for him, they would find him going along the mountain paths. They tried to talk him into returning home. They told him that he ought to get back to his own home. But the lad assured them that lie was going precisely to his own, real home, that the house where he had lived up to the present time was not his, and that he must hasten to his real home, where he must remain. We passed this place just as the boy had left for .the fourth time, and we do not know how it all ended.
In any case, there was some sort of irresistible attraction, and it is quite possible that if it remained unfulfilled, the little boy would wither like a blossom without moisture. It was amazing to observe a five-year-old boy explaining so seriously about his real home to which he must go.
And so also Livingstone and Casati, and all the countless travelers toward their real homes would have withered if they could not have succeeded in reaching their destination, so clear in their hearts. Besides, this circumstance is especially striking in that these aspirants were not seeking only salubrious conditions of nature, and were not striving for some well-ordered place of abode. On the contrary, their home, their real home, could involve many hardships. Such a longed-for home was often almost unendurable physically, but for all that, they rejoiced in spirit and felt themselves to be in a destined place.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." This adage shows deep insight. In it is emphasized an inner significance which surpasses everything external. If such a wayfarer has found his home, it would be harmful to tear him away because of some external circumstances. No business advancements, no tempting advantages compensate a man for the home which he has finally discovered. He need not become a member of the nation or tribe among which this inexplicable home of his is located. He is attracted thither not so much by the people as by all the other circumstances of existence. When a man feels good, it is usually not even possible to explain in words why it is so. Sometimes this feeling of well-being arises even under very arduous circumstances.
Likewise, when a man encounters his fellow travelers or his antagonists, he often cannot rationally explain his reactions, but through his eyes and his heart he knows much that cannot be expressed in words. People ought to regard such attractions with all solicitude. They should grasp them at their very inception in order not to extinguish or shatter them by the fetters of reason. If such an attachment awakens in a man, even though his nature may be subverted and his mind may be forever distorted, nothing will succeed in ejecting from his consciousness that which his heart and his spirit knows.
We also know people who have been permanently wounded. Either someone did not admit them to their already recognized home, or someone or something deprived them of their destined fellow traveler. The ignorant consider such attractions nonsense, a preconception, which should be terminated by any means. These ignorant ones never ponder on whence and from what cause this knowledge emanates. On the other hand it is understandable what an enormous significance for the entire life of a man is produced by the discovery of this, his recognized home, by finding somewhere his destined, long-ago-encountered fellow traveler. Even if for some reason, for some good, the man should be voluntarily separated for a time from his home, from his companion, nevertheless all his activity in the course of the temporary separation will continue under the sign of the realization achieved.
The man has found his home, he has found his companion, he has been fortified by long-established magnets, and thus the more clearly and resoundingly he can benefit his fellow man. The heart knows when it is again able to make contact with some other homes, and when the hour has come to inspire some other fellow travelers. Such straight-knowledge of the heart does not weaken a man, it merely transforms his activity, and many will ask. Whence come such strength and such assurance? They issue from realization of the longed-for home, from mutual strengthening through the longed-for companion. The family and teachers must deal solicitously with each manifest attraction. The home may be very near or it may be beyond mountains and valleys. And the companion will be found when nothing is allowed to obscure the true destined attachments.
April 27, 1935