Eve Fairbanks, a writer who lives in Johannesburg, is at work on a book about South Africa.

The illusion is powerful. (Karamysh/Bigstock)

Once, a therapist asked me what my “inner blocks” were against “becoming the person I really wanted to be”: settled, a homebody. The question was kindhearted, an observation of a yearning that, at the time, gave me pain.

I’d been on the road for months, my suitcase my most intimate companion, and I would cry when I thought of a house, the shelves for books, the dirt of many shoes on the doormat, the well-worn pans.

We buy so much into this philosophy of becoming — that, through effort, we can arrive in ourselves. We take Myers-Briggs tests to pin down our ephemeral natures. We read “The Purpose-Driven Life.” “How to find yourself” is the most-input Google search following the words “how to find …”

At a bed-and-breakfast in Cape Town, I once met a man who astonished me. Forty-something, he’d wandered the world and made a success of many careers: model, artist, accountant. By night, he took the bright red scooter he’d rented and drove all over the big city, hungry, restless, exploring, as was clearly in his nature. By day, he was paying a man who ran self-help seminars thousands of dollars to help him finally “find his passion.”

Recently, I moved into that longed-for house, and I finally have my own garden. Every day it changes. Nature never arrives, never. As soon as her buds open they begin to die. Do we ask Nature whether she’s more of a “summer” or a “winter” type of girl?

Her arcing between her poles — her homebody and her pilgrim, her quiet and her abundant, her dark and her light — is perpetual. And so, probably, ours must be. Her turn and roll doesn’t create balance, or not merely balance; it is life itself. For one pole generates the other, eternally: motion, the longing for rest; rest the energy for motion.