What is ‘home’?
Something funny happens when you have no fixed address and you move around from place to place; the meaning of home changes to become something other than just the ‘cave’ you took for granted and stepped out of at the start of your journey.. essentially our definition of ‘home’ changes as we go through life and encounter new experiences.
Is a ‘home’ a person’s place of residence? A social unit formed by a family living together? Or our place of origin? These are different (rather clinical) definitions for the concept of ‘home’ I found online, but they don’t really capture the essence of how we see our homes in our minds eye, they don’t capture how our homes make us feel or why having a home is so important to us.
Perhaps then a ‘home’ is more than just the sum of its parts.
Take any long term sojourn away from your security, family and friends and ‘home’ soon becomes just a concept in your mind like any other memory, a comfortable place in the back of your consciousness you can miss and remember and indulge (often in a nostalgic and idealised way) when you’re homesick or things haven’t been going quite as planned.
While away from it, the thought of home is the back-up generator in a hospital, the emergency breaks in an elevator or the safe word in bondage… Home is security, it’s comfort, warm hugs and cups of hot tea.
The concept of ‘home’ changes also as we go through life. It changes in response to new incoming experiences. As we grow from the innocence of childhood to adulthood, I’ve learnt that it seems to change based on our friends, family and the myriad events we go through in our lives.
Spend enough time in a new place and your concept of home shifts, there may be moments of panic when you wonder that perhaps maybe you have no home, but persevere and you can build a new home almost anywhere, it just takes time (perhaps you’ve done it already?)
A home is family, friends and our individual backgrounds, it represents a lot about who we are, it’s also a vital place we use to define ourselves in our own minds.
Right now I have no fixed address yet I still have a home. It’s like magnetic North for your mind; somehow the compass needle always points you back there.
The perks of having no fixed address basically mean that basecamp is anywhere you decide to sleep for the night. Hotels, motels, hostels, tents, cars etc.. and it’s amazing how quickly you can feel at comfortable in a new place like this when you practice enough. – Within 5 seconds of staying somewhere new, most of my bag is all over the floor and in sitting on a couch in my red comfy undies scratching the family jewels..
But a basecamp is not really a home, it’s like comparing a cave to a tent. Permanent vs. temporary.
It seems that the longer you are away from home the more ‘home’ becomes a stronger concept in your mind representing everything comfortable. The longer you stay away, the more you value these comforts.
The importance of this concept of ‘home’ is really subjective; yet we find it in people, in places, in memories and in our own minds throughout our lives. It is a construct of comfort and often idealised memory yet it’s somewhere we’ll always feel safe and familiar.
It helps define who we are yet many people go about still searching for it as they move through life. Looking for that perfect combination of people and geography, culture and values, enough to make them comfortable, secure and part of a community they can really relate to.
However it’s defined for you, take a moment and remember your home, where you came from and where you are now. It’s often an interesting thought experiment. In my experience it’s important to understand where you came from to work out where you are going.