I've had the theme of 'home' recurring in my life lately. I recently left SE Asia, where I had been living for the past year, and came back to the US to stay with my family for a while. Then, a few days before leaving, I had a dream about my childhood home being torn down. There was even a lesson on homes that I had to teach one of my students. This concept just kept appearing, which to me meant that it was something I needed to dive into and explore.
My first question is….What makes a home?
During this dream where my childhood home was being torn down, my mother was very upset but I was not. I was gently telling her that the house itself means nothing. I was calm and unemotional as I watched the red bricks crumble to the ground. When I woke, this was surprising to me as I am someone who is usually sentimental.
The feeling I had in the dream stuck with me and I was struck with a sense of clarity and a realization. The perfect analogy came to my mind as the house being related to the physical body. It is nothing more than a container to hold the life that pulses inside. We are not our bodies, we are the souls and life force contained inside. In this same way, our houses are not our homes, the people and experiences within it are.
While I will always feel comfortable when I go back to the place where I grew up, it doesn't hold the sentimental value that it once did. I have the ability to feel at home wherever I am, no matter how foreign it might seem at first. For me it just takes time, as I'm sure is the case for most of us. After time passes, comfort develops and connections are made. It is then that a place can truly become a home. However, it's not the place itself that changes, you change the physical space with your energy and life force.
So now that I know that home is not exactly a physical place, I'm faced with a different question….Why are we always searching for 'home'?
This may not be true for everyone, but many people that I've met along my travels are looking for their happy place, their Shangri-la. Whether that means finding the perfect house, renovating their current one, or relocating to a new city, state or country. It seems that so many of us are searching for this elusive concept of home.
Why is that? Are we even searching for something that can be found? I think that more than a physical place, it's a feeling of comfort and belonging that we are yearning for and home is something we equate that with. For those of us blessed with happy childhoods, we long to recreate the comfort and joy we experienced during that time. On the other side of that, people may look to create a sense of security that was lacking in the early years of their life.
This search for a home with natural sunlight, looking for the perfect color to paint the walls, or a city or town that has a good vibe really all boils down to a feeling. So if it all comes down to a feeling that we're searching for then….Why don't we focus on creating home wherever we are?
There will be times and situations where you cannot just up and leave where you are to search for something better. Family obligations or a job might keep you in one place while you long to be in another. This is a perfect opportunity to cultivate this comfort and security right where you are. Surround yourself with things that bring you peace.
The first time I walked into my apartment in Mandalay, I was facing a large, empty white-tiled apartment. I struggled to imagine that I would ever feel at home there. However, after taping a few photos to the wall and spending a few nights there, it felt like home, and, in the end, I was actually sad to leave my little oasis in the city. It didn't take much for me to infuse it with my energy. With the passage of time, your energy will fill the space and it will feel more like home because it literally is more like you.
So, at the end of the day, maybe we aren't meant to 'find' home, perhaps we are meant to create it wherever we land.