How could he explain this ongoing sensation of being in limbo?
Does time pass by from the present to the future, leaving behind a past, with a linear flow; or does time accumulate all experience and moments into a mass of which we each stand on the edge, drawn by gravity back to the centre of all things experienced – never to be able to escape until the end?
Maybe we will never know the true essence of this concept of time that has occupied thinkers for all history.
Returning to his experience, the accumulation of culture, time, moments, history, family, place and his relation to these things seemed when he was younger to be oppressive, limited and predictable. He longed to travel, experience other cultures and perspectives – to throw himself into the unknown world.
Of course, his youth made him feel invincible, so much so that getting old, becoming vulnerable and not in control of his destiny were out of the question; so much so that these concepts were not even considered. Really, there was time to do everything and surely there was a safe passage back to his existence if things didn't work out?
What he came later to understand was that the accumulated experience, time, place and family were a kind of continuum. Much like Bergson's notion of duration, time masses into the subconscious and gathers, connecting one and the present into the past. When deeply connected to place, this is coupled too to the collective social experience and memory.
But what happens if one breaks the cord of place?
As he became more entwined with the place he was in, which was not his home, and time passed, he began to realise that there was no turning back – that he had left behind the continuum of experience that was situated in the past and probably only existed now in his own mind. There was no way back to what he had left behind. This is not to say that there is a way back for anyone to the past, which is surely a painful notion that is universal to human experience. However, the way back to family, place, personal history can become ruptured and irretrievable when one moves away in both time and space, significantly from their point of origin.
This is the reality, and the paradox of the immigrant experience – where the notion of the past place becomes romanticised and perhaps idolised, when in fact this past place no longer exists other than in the memory of the person or persons who have left it behind.