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Plate Tectonics

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I invite you to return with me to my undergrad Geology classroom where I once discovered applicable lessons about home from the study of Plate Tectonics. The metaphorical possibilities are limitless.  The term tectonics comes from the Greek, pertaining to building. Whether hut, yurt or tent, built of wood, straw or stone, the physical dwellings we call home should be buildings that are sanctuaries. Plate Tectonics Theory also describes the motion of plates in the earth’s Lithosphere, which consists of crust and mantle. The Earth’s crust is rigid and unyielding; its mantle more liquid and fluid.  Again, an easy rhetorical leap that parallels the ebb and flow of emotions associated with every aspect of “making a home.”

The concept of continental drift is also rich with veins of rhetorical language waiting to be mined. If one subscribes to the theory of Pangaea, which assumes that our planet once consisted of a super-continent, surrounded by a super-ocean, then you must accept that we were once one big homeland. Therefore, even supposed solid ground has been shifting and drifting over epochs and eras.  Survival demands that one accepts the hypothesis that nothing remains static; staying still can be a death sentence. The geological language of upheaval, shattering, calving, accretion, permeability and violent movement is HOME writ large onto each of our personal landscapes.

Plate tectonics also asserts that there are three types of movement: Convergent, which is identified with collisions that produce volcanoes, earthquakes and mountain ranges; divergent, which is characterized by plates that move away from one another, initially producing rifts that become valleys and form islands; and transformative, movements that neither create nor destroy, but produce slips in the opposite direction from what one expects. Einstein asserted that “nothing happens until something moves.”  Whether we initiate the move, are moved upon or become the products of family movements, motion is apparently earth-shatteringly necessary. Being home, leaving home or coming back home; change is the one thing of which we can be certain.

“Going home means getting comfortable being who you are and who your soul really wants to be. There is no strain with that. The strain and tension come when we’re not being who our soul wants to be and we’re someplace where our soul doesn’t feel at home.” – Melody Beattie

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