Home is where the heart is
When I returned to my room last Friday, after Professor
Yepes's "Common Hour" discussion of "home," I decided
to see what the World Wide Web's response to the word would be. I tried
several search engines and came up with as many as 102 124 matches, ranging
from how to create a "home page" to hotels claiming to be my
"home away from home."
None of the matches, however, lived up to Charles Dickens'
definition: "Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger
than magician ever spoke or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest
conjuration." Perhaps that is because, as some people might say,
the times have changed, or perhaps it's because we have changed.
For many first-year students in colleges across the globe,
home is a word and a concept of paramount importance at this time in their
lives. However, as Professor Yepes suggested last week, it's not an exclusive
concern to those who are living away from home, but rather it's an issue
that concerns us all as human beings living in a society that doesn't
always foster a sense of comfort and acceptance.
Home isn't merely a place where we grow up, where our family
and friends live. It's a state of mind, a distinct characteristic that
can neither be found nor given to us. Home is perhaps the most intensely
personal aspect of our lives, because it is the part of us that allows
us to be and find ourselves everywhere we go.
It may be that because home is such an important part of
us, it is also difficult to nurture and cultivate within us, separate
from our surroundings. Right from the start, we are taught that home is
where we live, where our families are. If our families move to a different
location, so our homes move, and we are to accept this change.
Unfortunately, more often than not, a new location doesn't
become home. New places and new people usually disorient us, to use Professor
Yepes's word. Yet, the changes and the moves are inevitable, and they
are, in fact, necessary elements in the process of creating such a home
Some may say that the concept of disorientation as a positive
force is a paradox. Perhaps it is, but if we have not first felt uncomfortable,
disoriented, or homeless, we cannot know a time when there is, in Professor
Yepes's words, "
the wanting machine stops,
and one experiences home
Then, hardship, pain and even hunger become
much more bearable."
Generally speaking, however, we are not taught to search
for and develop the home within us. We are not taught that disorientation
or depression can be a good thing, a starting point from which we can
grow and learn. We are taught, rather, to "fit in" to what society
expects of us, and to fix any sense of disorientation, rather than to
try and understand it. In fact, it appears that our surroundings often
make greater contributions to destroy the home within us than to help
us build it.
Indeed, it seems to me, that many of our society's problems
stem from this very basic concept of home or the lack of it. We shouldn't
strive to make everyone conform to a society that, after much shaping
and destruction of the individual, becomes home, because it will never
truly be so, and those who think that it is must be content to leave much
of their lives and themselves undiscovered.
Some might say that this view of our world is, perhaps, rather dark, but to deny ourselves the chance to discover the home that lies (dormant or quite awake) within us all, is to deny ourselves much more than a simple discovery. It is to knowingly reject the chance to create positive changes within ourselves and in the world we live in, and, indeed, to deny ourselves this "Home- that blessed word, which opens to the human heart the most perfect glimpse of Heaven, and helps to carry it thither, as on angel's wings," as Lydia Child says, is the greatest and most widespread tragedy of our time.