Thursday, July 11, 2013

What is home?

I have heard home is where the heart is, that I can't really go home, that my home is my castle.  I guess in my life, my home is where I spend most of my time.  It sure isn't the little town my parents lived in when I was born in a hospital not too far away.  My heart is mostly where I live now, where I have lived for more than 20 years.  As a child, I lived in 8 different locations but all in the same general area. I left that area years ago and have lived in my current area for 45 years.

Home is clearly important to many animals, not just me.  The chipmunk runs to its home for safety.  The robin keeps its babies in its nest.  We sometimes say that basic human needs are food, shelter and clothing.  Even though the wind may damage my house and the cold or heat seeps into it, it does give me protection from many dangers and discomforts.

I guess moving into a different home is often rather disorienting.  When I first move in, I can feel quite pleased but over time, little problems and flaws emerge.  Over more time, I get accustomed to this new place.  Returning to it becomes a routine.  I learn to live with the flaws and limitations as I did with those of my body and memory and temperament. Having to change is something of a burden.  This kitchen isn't where I expect it to be.  This house is not lit by windows in the way I am used to.  This neighborhood is too quiet or too noisy for me.

I read somewhere that Churchill said we design our buildings and then they design us.  Joan Chittister writes of our becoming cemented in our routines, usual drives, typical pastimes.  "The Life of Pi" is about a young man who grew up with a zookeeper as a father.  Much of his thinking and models have come from animals.  He knows that a zoo animal becomes accustomed to his cage as its home and will often choose to re-enter that familiar place that has seemed safe and accepting.  It may become especially fearful and aggressive if its home is invaded by an outsider. Our neighbor's Border collies bark less and are notably calmer with the new fence around their yard.

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