This week’s Thursday Tidbits considers home, in particular the miles and years that make up the distance between what was home and what is home. It is surprising how far one will travel only to discover that one was always home.
Just recently, I made such a trek, a physical distance of over 2000 miles, and a trip in the making for many years. Some months ago, I finally made the plane reservations and as much as possible, I went into training by increasing my daily exercise and experimenting with different foods.
There was never a doubt the trip would require much more of me than the everyday life I have come to know.
I flew across the United States, leaving the subtropical climate of the American South for the high plains desert of the American West. It is no exaggeration to say that I went from sea level to a mile high in a matter of hours. My body is still recovering.
Of course, there is no way to prepare for such a trip home, even one without such altitude extremes for what was home is now another place entirely with a life and tempo all its own. It is, essentially, no longer home.
“lift the veil
that obscures the heart
you will find
what you are looking for”
Kabir (India, 15th century)
A visit to a location that was home requires us to open our eyes to what that hometown is now, a place we no longer call home and a place that no longer calls to us, save in memory. That is the veil we lift if we are to experience home at all.
There are streets not much changed and others completely new but already familiar to those who now make this town their home. There are new houses with new lives, making memories, and old houses no longer in evidence, not even a brick or board, but in memory they remain home.
The hours I spent in my former hometown— long enough to see the sun set and rise—was a constant barrage of sixties moments competing with the growth that marks us all, the march of time. The torrent of memories rained into the next few days, as we drove across one state into another, all familiar roads like the town that once was home.
For over four decades, the wide-open, windy vistas of the American West defined me–birth, youth, adulthood, and most of middle age—place was prominent in my life that was, often the only anchor in tempest-tossed seas.
It is not lost on me that I mix the imagery of that past life–so arid and wild–with the life I have now, not as wild nor arid at all.
The place that I call home has changed from desolate, vast plains and mountain slopes of snow to the verdant green carpet surrounding Waverly pond as well as the Gulf of Mexico, blue beneath towering palms. And I have changed with it.
Now a sexagenarian, home is among the live Oaks draped with moss, creating one canopy road after another. In every season, something blooms or yet another color emerges in the ever-changing foliage. There is lushness in my later years and for me, that is as it should be.
I came late to the realization of “If you look for the Truth outside yourself, it gets farther and farther away” (Tung Shan). Yet, without those early years of traversing the high plains desert that held my heart, I might never have realized that what I sought was always within me.
My trip home, these many years later, confirmed a life lived is just that, which is a lot. Driving across the desert plains in spring, I saw that old life in every sagebrush stock, rock outcropping, or hogback hill that whisked by my window. It all passed so quickly—just as it had when I lived it–vast and sweeping but complete in itself.
“The whole world is you,
yet you keep thinking
there is something else.”
~ Hsueh Feng
For years, I thought there was something else but as I have shared on this blog many times, what is inside each one of us is the whole world that is each one of us. What is inside us colors the way we are in the world, for our everyday lives are a mere reflection of what is in our hearts.
The two regions I have called home are worlds apart geographically and geologically, and I am grateful for the gifts of each, for only now is home no longer a location but the whole world that I am in any place, in any moment.
Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.