What is Home?



What is home?

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The Biblical book of Exodus tells of being a stranger in a strange land, which has universal resonance.  To fully grasp our attachments to home then, perhaps we might first consider what home is not: Terra incognita, a place unfamiliar, unwelcoming even.  Overwhelming feelings of confusion, disorientation and uncertainty meet you upon arrival. This will change. Still, while visiting the unexplored is essential for adventure, we often yearn for the familiarity of home, especially if we are denied easy access to it. Home is a touchstone, the standard by which all other places are judged. If home has been a safe place, we can recall a sanctuary to which we can retreat when strangeness loses its allure. If home was a frightening, sad or angry place, we spend our lives hungering to recreate it on our own terms.

As we grow up, a few of us may be able to locate that physical place we first called home, but it is hardly the same place because we are no longer the same. We’ve outgrown it, amazed at how small an area once encompassed our whole world. Others may only be able to locate home only in memories, equally amazed at how one place occupies such a large area in our minds. I suspect we all possess a personal sense of what our first home meant to us. There will never be any place quite like it, good, bad and everything in between. When we compare our perceptions with those with whom we shared this first home, we marvel at the dissimilarities of our memories.  How could this be? Emotional  templates are affected by age, gender and other variables.

If home was the beginning of everything we know, then home was the birthplace of our attitudes, beliefs and values. These initial creations must therefore still reside, secreted inside our neural synapses, the small gaps at the end of neurons where signals are passed to and fro. Synapses fire off signals; they connect and are integral to the functioning of our brains. Without them, there could be no room in the inn, no lodging in our brain where memories reside.

Humans think constantly; our thoughts swing from vine to vine, never allowing us to stay where we are for long. Buddhists  call this our monkey minds. Inside our heads we incessantly alter, arrange, design, deconstruct, discard, dream, peruse, pursue and scrutinize random musings. Sometimes these thoughts involve constructing the perfect home, dwellings built from the scrap heaps of our deepest desires, longings and recollections. If I ever get there, I will never want to leave, we tell ourselves during creation. I can’t stay here another moment, we chide ourselves when we feel compelled to move on. Then we begin the cerebral salvaging process: we discover, discard, preserve, refurbish, recycle and repurpose. Home is a presence, and therein lies the problem. Right here, right now is sometimes the most difficult address to maintain.

Is there really no place like home? 

I invite you to enter this technological dwelling,

click your ruby-red slippers together and share your thoughts of this “no place like home.”