Sunday, November 10, 2013

Heart & Hearth: On the Question of Home (10 November 2013)

[Explorations of a spiritual and existential theme] 

What is a home?  What does it mean to ‘have a home;’ to ‘lose a home?’  What does it mean to be ‘at home?’”

These questions have fascinated me for decades.  As a poet and thinker I find these questions have moved me deeply and are at the root of my praxis of thinking and creating.  I am reminded of them whenever I hear of someone moving into their first apartment or house on their own, or when I hear of homeless people or people losing their homes, not to mention their lives, en-masse—as they did this week in the Philippines.  My creative life has been tethered to these questions.  There seems to be something so central to this question for human nature that I cannot stop thinking about it.  It recurs and has come back to me in a number of forms.  Just when I think I get a handle on it, something happens to call me back to this vortex of questions.
I have some inkling as to where the question of ‘home’ came from for me; what its roots and tendrils were—how it came to be formulated out of the kaleidoscope of my own early experiences and ruminations.  Everyone has their own personal history with a home, lack of a home, moving from home to home or desiring a new home.  My questioning arose through an experienced comparison between my own natal home with my parents and sister and my grandmother’s home on a farm in central PA.  These were two positive instances of home, though different.  The question of home then emerged as a literary and philosophical question in the early 1980's, just as I was awakening from my dogmatic slumbers; coming into my own as a thinker and writer—exploring the diverse ways in which people live and dwell and make themselves 'at home' (or not) in the places where they live..
The questions surrounding the idea of ‘home;’ what home 'is' for us, why we value it, what happens when we lose it and what it might take to reclaim it – I consider to be deeply spiritual considerations; they help to form and impact how we live our lives and the play a role in whether we can live our lives to the fullest, or not.  The idea of a ‘home’ is one of those universals; we ‘recognize’ it, we ‘know’ what the word means, though it is extremely hard to define.  If we are or become wanderers and wayfarers in the world, it is often through contrast with being at home or ‘having’ a home that we find self-definition, though it is entirely possible to live a nomadic life from the beginning, to have ‘home’ mean something more abstract than it does for those of us who live in solid buildings.  Does the nomadic person have a more abstract concept of ‘home’ – or is their idea of home altogether a different notion of existence and how to dwell in the Earth & Cosmos?