When I moved to Brazil from CA at ten years old, I began diving into a culture that was different from my parents’ (Chinese) and from the culture I had begun to adapt to (American). For the next seven years, I’d dip my toe into all three, feeling aspects of belonging and ownership, but fully immersing into none.
As I continued to move on to different stages of growing up, I was overcome by the reality that in all those cultures, I might never experience feeling at home. My life became a frequent battle with restlessness. In the simplest ways, I could barely sit down through a movie without pausing to do five other things. In helpful ways, it made me curious, willing to explore and pursue new things. In the most painful ways, it made me hesitant of long-term commitments and unable to fully connect with many communities.
I doodled “Bloom Where You Are Planted” and “Wander” a few days from each other, without even realizing it. It was a couple months after my wedding (about 5 months ago), a season of entering into all sorts of commitments and newness. I was figuring out my place in the changes, fighting off bouts of restlessness, and finding strength every day to embrace the choices. Though the concepts of “Bloom” and “Wander” can be seen as complete opposites that can’t live in harmony with each other, I found myself processing my desire and necessity for both.
I saw “Bloom” as a call to be grateful—to own the decisions I’ve made, grow where my feet have planted, invest in friendships worth blossoming. It is a call to wholeheartedly invest in seasons of my life, and the work and people in them. I saw “Wander” as a reminder to never forget my experiences in other places and with other people—to avoid getting consumed in my own little world, engulfed in my own needs and plans. The call to wander reminds me of where my heart has been stretched, and to continue to live with arms stretched and palms open.
But when each is taken to its extremes, I’ve seen its harm as well. At its worst, blooming where I’m planted can turn into complacency, into fear. It becomes the unwillingness to move beyond my comfort zone, to connect with the world outside my own. Wandering at its worst is the lack of commitment and wholeheartedness. It is impatience, it is excuses, it is complaining and griping.
Wherever our restlessness stems from, I know it’s powerful and real. I know the pain we can feel while holding still to see sights of blooming where we decided to plant. Some days, the blooming does not feel worth it, and we feel exhausted and stupid for trying. And some days the wandering doesn’t feel worth it—we want to rest, settle down, feel at home somewhere. I know we get engulfed in the fears and unknowns of wandering, as we share more of who we are and let more people into our lives.
But when we start to see some of the harvest of those choices—they can be just as real and powerful. Blooming might have challenged us to grow with someone, or hang in there through a rough, dark patch (of your own or with someone else). It allowed us to watch something we’ve poured into blossom. Wandering might have allowed us to cross paths with many people, exposing us to their realities, challenging us through their bravery and resilience. We might have had a chance to shed layers and walls we’ve built, and experience new freedoms.
My hope is that we’re able to go full circle, through planting, blooming, wandering, more wandering, and then planting again. That we won’t be resistant to the process of being brave and scared, rooted and growing, wiser but still curious. That’d we’d learn to take full ownership of each season as we live through it, but be courageous enough to dream again when it is time. I hope that when waves of restlessness wash over us, like waves of longing for home can wash over me, that we’ll lean in to the call to “Bloom” and “Wander,” in its balance and harmony.
P.S.-Thanks for reading! The "Bloom Where You Are Planted" and "Wander" prints are no longer for sale at the shop, but you can e-mail me to see if I have a few left in stock! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org