Without my sorrow
To where it’s better
Going Home, Leonard Cohen
How is your new home? Does it feel like home yet? Spending time living in a tent, moving every few days, I have been wondering what home means. As we travel around, my traveling companions and I have been thinking about what we might want from a home. Home in a broader sense than just a physical shelter. Sarah has been suggesting some great questions to ponder as we search for answers; What kind of ecological community do you want to live in?, What kind of social community do you want to live in?, Who would you like to live near?, What kind of work would you like to do?
I feel very lucky to have the space to answer these questions from afar (it has taken some time to be able to relax my mind into the space though ;-)). Being able to step away and look back is important. I know you found that to be incredibly beneficial. The combination of people and place is a complex thing to explore. One thing we seemed to have discovered so far is that we identify quite strongly as Victorians. It is really interesting. I think I have always had a strong sense of being Australian – whatever that means – but I have not really contemplated my sense of place on a more local level.
Nikki Gemmell quotes Salman Rushdie “This, perhaps, is what it means to love a country: that its shape is also yours, the shape of the way you think and feel and dream. That you can never really leave.”
When I think of this, I see South Eastern Australia. I feel more connected to that part of the world than anywhere else. This does not stop me from looking beyond! Mostly it is considering the micro, rather than moving into the desert or something. Nikki talks of needing to constantly look for the new and interesting:
“Once I was neophiliac, moving restlessly from landscape to landscape, and I have that chafing again… And perhaps at some point I just have to embrace the mystery of being settled.” source
I wrestle with this when it comes to home. I feel like I just want to find a spot to prop and settle in for the long haul. But then, after a little while, I get the ‘grass is greener’ feeling. I begin to look around to see what everyone else is doing – do I want to do that too. I also end up getting frustrated with people. As Parker Palmer puts it “Community is that place where the person you least want to live with always lives… When that person moves away, someone else arises immediately to take his or her place”. I think I just need to work on my resilience and accept diversity. That does not stop me seeking perfection though. I’m trying not to, I really am 😉
Tim Winton talks about how Australia is still searching for its own culture. For so long we have battled the disconnect between old school Britain, local aboriginal culture, and the mix of all the other folks who have come to this island over the years. Both Tim and Nikki mention the rising patriotism of the last few years. Scary stuff. We have noticed this disconnect as we travel around the country. I think about your experience as an implant in Australia, as we’ve discussed before – back in Canada, you are no longer a Canadian, while in Australia, you are still a Canadian!
The question of social community is also tricky. Humans are funny creatures, always wanting to be around like minded people. But what is like minded? How far do we drill down to find ‘our’ kind of community? What happens to our perspective and sense of the world if we drill down too far? Will we ever manage a strong mix of culture? I hope so.
As Leonard hints at, leaving home every now and then might be beneficial on lots of levels. Leaving home has certainly helped me work on my sorrow and self esteem (with the help and determination of my family). Will it be better than before when I return? Who knows? I do hope so.
Yours in citizenship,
– With thanks to George for the introduction to the Leonard song.
8 Replies to “Home”
Thankyou Geoff. Another question or two to set me thinking and to help things unravel. Just by asking the questions something will shift and the important things will be revealed. Or…sometimes by creating a space to be still and NOT think some things become clear too.
I like what Pascal Mercier, said in “Night Train to Lisbon”
If it true that we live only a small part of the life that is within us,
what happens to the rest?
We live here and now, everything before mostly in other places is forgotten.
What could, what should be done with all the time that lies ahead
open and unshaped?
Featherlight in its freedom and lead heavy in uncertainty.
Is it a wish, dreamlike and nostalgic to stand once again
at that point in life
and to take a different direction to the one that has made us who we are.
Much love from me
Your Mother xxxx
Yes, always the questions are key. The effort is in the question. Get the question right and the answer just kind of appears.
My struggle is often with the ‘lead weight of uncertainty’ 🙂 always wanting certainty. Something to work on, I think.
Thanks Geoff I get chaffed from spending too long at home. Nowdays I don’t need to leave home for very long but I go to places that are different so I can enjoy what IS home. I like ‘different’ when it comes to cultures, lifestyles, challenges, the unknown but I also need the familiarities of home. Home is not where I live it is where I put my stuff and family for a while.
Yes, the different really helps with perspective, I think. We certainly feel we have seen a lot of different on our journey, but also feel we are constrained by our methods and privilege sometimes. Walking through the bush or riding a bike is very different to traipsing around in a car.
How long is a while? Ha, that’s the question that gets me, the uncertainty again. Let go and allow things to wash over me…
I love your questions Geoff. Your blog is a great way to hear about your journeyings. It compelled me to try and articulate a random assortment of thoughts that sparked after reading your blog. I am not sure this makes complete sense and I have written this in a rush, but here goes…
I think about the idea, and my idea, of home a lot. As someone that spends almost as much time ‘away’ as at ‘home’, I sometimes feel my perception of what home is shifts. I tend to think of home more as a feeling now. That feeling might be sitting by the snowy with the sand between my toes, or on the couch at my house with Tiff. Do people make a place home? I don’t think it’s just people. I think a lot about my material surroundings these days. Isn’t the physical world always changing (weather, tides, night/day, buildings fade, new ones are constructed)? So if I am travelling or not, are things ever really static? I think our physical environment shapes us a lot. We absorb the mood of places and are influenced as much by the physical terrain as other people. We often pay more attention to people than our physical environment, but if we shift our perspective…
I think it’s tough thinking about a life in flux, but it is also where things get exciting. I think it’s the nature of humans (along with many other things) to be dynamic, not static. Life comes through movement. For me I embrace and try to be responsive to the movement and then living in flux becomes a feeling that I think of as home. Being responsive to movement is a kind of exploration, and as T.S Eliot put it:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
Anyway, there is a brief snap shot of some eclectic thoughts. I hope you are in some beautiful place having a grand time.
Thanks for your insightful thoughts. It doesn’t surprise me you have thought about this a bit. Yes, I often contemplate this particular topic whilst in the bush, too. I also feel like we are such a small blip in time, the buildings we create will not last very long, compared with the rocks they rest upon.
Like you say, ever changing. I find it interesting we humans feel the need to put so much energy into getting things perfect with our creations, considering they will not be around for long.
I like the idea or exploration (and being curious), bit I’m not sure I could be comfortable with total flux. But then perhaps that is a fairly subjective term and dynamic is a nice way of thinking. It suggests a certain responsiveness, I think. Responding to the world – people, places.
I have also begin more to consider my time in places (mainly when I consider the houses I live in) as being a caretaker, rather than an owner. I am looking after a place for a while, then I’ll move on (dynamic) and someone else will come along.
We just visited some Aboriginal fish traps near the Darling today that are about 40,000 years old. Full on! How’s the scale of time on that one? I can’t see that anything I do in my life will still be influencing the world in 40,000 years time.
If we never cease from our exploring, I wonder how we might make it back to where we started? Hmmmm.
Could you imagine yourself as a Tasmanian? Or even a New Zealander? (There’s a prime minister we could be proud of). Those are the type of places my mind wanders when thinking about where the grass might be greener.. literally and figuratively! The community implications of such are move are daunting though.
Yes, exactly. But the political stuff changes so quickly too. Maybe I could just work harder on where I am at, rather than exerting so much energy on alternatives?
I think Tassie would be just too cold . I know it would be just right for you (except for the excess of cloud cover!)