What does it mean to come home?

As part of my personal re-booting process, I decided to go home. Home, for me, is Washington DC. It’s where I was born and reared and attended school. I always knew I’d return home; I just needed several years away in order to gain a perspective I needed before it felt safe for me to return.


As with any journey home, it is all too easy to slip into the habits, behaviors, and mindset we held while living there the first time ‘round. But, as life has a funny way of demonstrating, many of these original frameworks are neither accurate nor helpful to mature adults. For instance, as a child, I used to watch a tv ad for a local bank (now defunct) which proclaimed it was, “the most important bank in the most important city in the most important country in the world.” How’s that for hyperbole?


Repetition has its effects. Hearing the same messages over and over—especially as a youngster—does impact one’s perspective. I knew Washington was important and believed that importance extended to me as one of its denizens, regardless of the merit of my claim. Despite my susceptibility to the arrogance and self-centeredness that defines much of Washington, there was another part of me that knew  my secret entitlement beliefs rang hollow and that there was something else, something different and exciting “out there” if only I were brave enough to leave the fold.


And, so I left—for a long, long time.


This same, localized arrogance can be found amongst people who call New York or Boston, Los Angeles or London home. But why limit it to urban mythologies? What about growing up on the flat Texas plains, the golden valleys of the Santa Ynez Mountains, or the deltas of the Mississippi? There, too, people are given messages about particular ways of “right living” with everything else being lesser. My point about home is this: growing up, we have no perspective that there exists anything outside of what we know, and rarely do children question that there might be a very different view of what it means to live successfully.


What does “home” mean to you? Have you ever, seriously questioned the assumptions and priorities by which you live your life? By that I mean do you believe your family life must be a certain way or else it’s no good? Do you measure yourself according to your career achievements? What about the progress your child is making? Have you seized upon some definition of family values no matter how ill the fit may be for you? Are you terrified that relaxing or altering some of these definitions might throw your life into a tizzy? Is your home a place, a person, a livelihood, a way of living? And if you haven’t found your home, what’s missing? What do you wish for?


In many respects, I have multiple homes because several places provide great comfort to me—I can relax and relish what certain locales have to offer. There are people, too, who represent home to me. As for a livelihood or a way of daily living? Haven’t found those, yet, but I’m on the hunt. I think I know what I want, but then again, maybe not. The bumps in the road I’ve encountered have sent me wandering, so I stumble along, testing out this or that, weighing the pros and cons, seeing what can be negotiated and what appears to be a non-starter. As a result, I feel a little lost.


So, that’s me. What about you? What does home mean to you? Is it a place? Is it a person? Is it simply a memory? Have you yet to find your home? What assumptions did you make as a child that perhaps have outlived their usefulness? How do you create a home that’s right for you? If not now, when?


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One Response to “What does it mean to come home?”

  1. grasshopper Says:

    without meaning to sound too “woo woo” I really think that home is within ourselves. It is a state of mind, and about being in touch with ourselves and our own core values. To me, I feel most at home when I feel that I have a purpose. i’ve come to find that the location, the house, the things is really of less importance. I can feel at home anywhere I am, if I feel I’m living out my purpose and sharing that with others who are on the same wavelength…and incidentally, whenever I’m most engaged in doing something I love that makes me feel like I’m in my element, I find I’ve attracted a close circle of friends that shares in that and feels like family…and that is when you know you’re home.

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