My favourite writer, bell hooks, and one of my friends, both say that it is in the particular that we may find the universal. This idea encouraged me to continue to sharing my personal life challenges and my thoughts in the hope that they may resonate to someone, and therefore create the warm feeling of humanising what apparently seems to be a odd event or feeling in one single person’s life.
In the last weeks I drafted some thoughts on the idea of ‘belonging’ and ‘home’ that I have discarded as I felt they were perhaps confusing and not relevant. Yet this rainy morning I woke up with the urge to share them, to write again about home and belonging.
All started with the book ‘belonging, a culture of place’ from bell hooks. It is impressive how this woman has written about all the subjects that I consider being essential in a person’s life! So once again I picked up her book when I felt the need to know more and, more than knowing, to understanding and critically reflect on these issues. I was puzzled about her thoughts and reflections. I could not find the answers I was looking for, however I continued reading. And yet I cannot say she gave me answers, certainly her book is one of the important elements accompanying me in this period of my life, when I find myself in search of a place called ‘home’.
Some, like Pico Iyer in his Ted talk ‘Where is home?’, say that home is inside of us. This makes sense, especially for people like me who have been living in different countries and travelling often. Going out of our comfort zone too frequently, by leaving the place we normally call home (our house, neighbourhood, city, country), can be quite stressful, and therefore to create a space inside ourselves where we can go whenever we feel discomfort is quite relevant and makes sense to me. Home is inside, it should be. Nevertheless, I am convinced it is not only inside… I am not happy with this answer, because I have been feeling quite ‘homeless’ in the last period and I cannot say I have lost myself.
So, there must be an outside physical place we call home:
A place where we can search for and find the values that are absolute to us,
A place where the landscape is familiar or beloved,
A place where there is a personal history made of people, places, spaces and events from where we grew to become who we are,
A place where people we love are waiting for us,
A place where there is a sense of familiarity in the tone of the voices and the language sounds like music,
A place where you crave for food and it nurtures your body and soul,
A place where our senses are awaken and pleased by what they feel,
A place where…
I believe there must be such a place, rather, placeS, and to my surprise I am realising where those are to me. I realise, for instance, that a landscape is not only a landscape, it shapes who we are and pleases our senses (or not). And it also offers different opportunities, different challenges and possibilities.
On the other hand, having lived for many years abroad, I realise the importance of land ownership and the sweet feeling associated to the childhood memories linked to those places, and how it shaped who we are. Furthermore, owning land is also a matter of ancestry and belonging, and it offers the possibility for being independent in terms of basic needs like food, water and shelter. The connection to the land has been for many oppressed groups the pathway to freedom and empowerment, and most importantly, a way to learn to love and respect our Mother Earth.
I am quite an open minded person, a strong apologist of diversity as ‘just different’ and not necessarily ‘better or worse’. Still I am discovering that in my choice of a place where I feel at home I need to stick to what is of utmost importance to me, to the values echoed by my inner self and which I caress as the absolute and essential values to me. This does not mean I am becoming less open minded, I still believe different is just different, nevertheless not all diversity suits us. It is therefore important to keep a dialogue with diversity, at the same time that we have the courage to assume our absolutes, those that make us truly happy.