These were the words I wrote returning to Australia after six months of travel across Europe. But parting with so many new friends and heart connections, I came back to a chaotic living situation with an uncomfortable feeling…
The place I called ‘home’ did not feel like ‘home’.
So as always, when I don’t understand something I embark on a mini-project hoping to find some wisdom. I asked friends for two things: songs that give a sense of home, and their meaning of home. Because what is home anyway? Is it the house, neighbourhood or country we live in? Is it a feeling? If clichés tell me “home is where the heart is,” where is my heart anyway?
My conclusions may surprise you.
HOW TO FEEL HOME
1. Travel often. Travel simply.
It may sound paradoxical, but the best way I have come to discover a sense of home is through travel. After months of living out of a backpack, the simplicity of having less things is liberating, reminding me that home is not a house and the stuff in it.
As in life, when I travel by myself I have a fear of never finding people to authentically connect with. But once travelling and travelling simply, I am both surprised yet somehow reminded that ‘like attracts like’ and that the most incredible individuals and ‘teachers’ appear for me when I need them the most.
“Wherever I go, there will be community.”
2. Be vulnerable*. Be seen. Live your creativity.
I dance, write, draw, I have given birth to a new social initiative, and I have made dreams of travelling the world a reality. Despite the potential for judgment from others, I have known what it is like to put my creative self out there, knowing that it is this expression that is Me.
But beware! Taking the risk to be vulnerable ultimately leads to one thing – feeling truly alive!
“Find rest in my creative activity.”
(*As Brene Brown says, having the courage to be vulnerable can ultimately deepen the quality of our relationships, in fact this is how we achieve intimacy! However there are times when people will not be able to hold your vulnerability, or to hear your story.)
3. Dance to the beat of your own drum.
I believe we cannot feel home if we don’t have our personal freedom. There are many voices in our world, both outer and inner, which advise, judge and may even appear to be in our best interest. However, there does come a time in a man’s life when he becomes aware of his own values, voice, direction and rhythm in life. Following this is the hallmark of courage. I will spend the rest of my days learning to trust to live my life in the most authentic way possible.
“There is only one me. Honour my uniqueness, no one can do this for me.”
4. Be curious about the people around you and what is important to them.
While it is important to be clear on my own values, no matter how much I travel (internationally, or just ‘down the street’), I do not live in a bubble. No man is an island, I am human and therefore a social creature that needs to belong. There are other people in my house, neighbourhood, community, country, and even the on the street I walk on. Why do they do what they do? Why do it that way? Why do they spend so much time and energy pursuing the things they do?
“Being open, curious and engaged with people enables me to better understand and empathise with others. If I am closed then people will feel ‘too different’ to me, I will not be able to ‘meet’ them, and I will feel disconnected.”
5. Be open to being challenged. Challenge respectfully
I need to be challenged from time to time. It’s not that I’m not right, it’s just that I’m not always right! The deepest friendships I have are those who respectfully challenge my assumptions and do so with grace, tact and discretion. I ultimately arrive at my own judgment but it is the openness that is necessary to ‘meet’ people. Conversely, I must trust myself enough to do the same, and to challenge people when I see that something is wrong or could be improved. This goes for the people I live with, partners, friends, colleagues, community, businesses, institutions and governments.
“I must be open to learn about my own assumptions, yet trust myself to respectfully challenge those around me.”
6. Focus your energy, time and space on practices which nurture you.
For me, movement meditation practice is my way of reconnecting with the wisdom of my body, it safely pushes me to ‘my edge’ while honouring my growth. For others it is yoga, art, men’s groups etc. I can waste time just like everybody else, but once I find what really resonates for me the commitment to it flows naturally; and each time I practice I pray to the divine part of Myself.
“Many behaviours shortchange me. Find practices which honour the sacredness of my body, mind and soul.”
7. Focus your energy, time and make space for people who honour and celebrate your current growing self.
A friend said to me that: There are parts of ourselves that we don’t always live with. We like and love these parts but they are not always seen, honoured and celebrated.
“Home is when I am most accepting and loving of Myself.”
Home is when I feel I am celebrating and honouring all that I am NOW. The current version of me, not in five years time, or whenever I create the perfect job, house, body or partner.
I understand now how lucky I have been to be part of relationships and communities which have celebrated, honoured, respected and challenged me. Safe ‘places’ and ‘spaces’ to explore my light, as well as dance with my own beautiful darkness. People and practices discovered which honour and value the growing self, which push me to ‘my edge’, and expand the horizons of my inner world.
I believe now that it is when I seek, choose and create these kinds of relationships that I feel a sense of home.
So as the clichés suggest, it seems that ‘home is where the heart is’. And as some of the songs say, it does seem that ‘home is wherever I am with you’.
I just never lived in my heart before. And I must sing more songs to Myself!
Live in your heart
“If light is in your heart you will find your way home.”- Rumi