This question has come up a lot while I’ve been travelling over the past few years.
I got asked, “So… where is home for you?” almost on a daily basis. I encountered countless individuals who left their place of birth and now call a new country ‘home’. I read a lot of esoteric books and had conversations conceptualizing that home is on the inside or wherever you are. Many people associate home with that little coloured passport book or even language. I came across many a traveller who escaped former lives and are doing everything in their power to run away from home. I met people who wished they could go back home, but needed to immigrate due to financial or other circumstances. Then there’s crossing paths with all those transient travellers who proudly adopt the homeless title and never want to call anywhere home.
Evidently, I think home can mean a lot of different things.
The foundations of home are often formulated before we can even spell the word ‘home’; it’s simply where we’re born. For others, it takes a lifetime of searching to find somewhere to call home.
We usually consider home as the place where we grew up. This is the critical period when novel experiences, child rearing, and education establish our concept of reality. It is the time when we learn social norms and how we relate to/interact with the people around us. It’s the point when we first experience culture and traditions and when we receive education on our nation’s history and where our ancestors came from.
Home is both a permanent and dynamic concept. One’s home is a constant, such as a country, city, or the very first house. Home can also be a perception in flux, changing with time and as families evolve, people move, children enter the picture, and as lives progress.
I also believe a significant part of feeling ‘at home’ involves understanding. There is a shared knowledge or understanding based on history, culture, values/beliefs, and environment (this also includes political environment and collective understanding). While home usually represents safety and comfort, it does not imply a utopia. It is where we are surrounded by individuals who understand and can relate to us. Home is a place that fits our concept of the world and melds with our beliefs and values.
Over the past 3 years, I have called a number of places “home”. Everything from an ashram to a hostel, my backpack to a housesit, a tent in a log cabin to the back of my car. I slept, rested, and returned to a safe haven that felt like home. It is a place where you feel secure and grounded.
Throughout the travels, there were many places I visited and thought to myself, “Hey – I could live here!” But when I looked deep within, I knew where my real home was. When it came time to settle down and stop travelling for a while, the only place my mind would travel to is that big ‘ol country up north!
For me, home is Canada.
Home is where my mother, father, and brother live. Home is where my friends from high school, art college, university, and soccer reside. Home is where people get my humour and
terrible hilarious jokes. It is a place where I have significant freedom and rights, free healthcare, feel safe walking at night, and where you’ll hear a “hi” when you pass someone on the street. It’s where people are laid back, progressive, polite, multicultural, liberal, and maintain a collective appreciation for the vast beauty of the far North. To me, home has clean air, four seasons, mountains, snow, pine trees, rivers, lakes, and wild animals. Although…this doesn’t mean that my home can’t change one day 😉
Welp… this particular lag of my travel journey has come to an end.
I have learned SO much over the past 3 years and I know this is only the beginning. Travelling will not stop and this does not mean that exploration, learning, life, and living will suddenly cease.
I left Canada in 2012 as an ambitious and curious girl. I was full of anxiety, preconceptions, stereotypes, and ideas on how I thought things were or ‘should’ be. Being abroad challenged every last thought, value, and belief I had of the world. My entire understanding and perception on many topics were completely shook, turned upside-down, and revolutionized. I now see life, death, love, relationships, work, family, tradition, travelling, people, material things, and home in a completely new way. This has been an incredible, eye-opening, and powerful journey. Major questions have peaked and I know I have only discovered the tip of the iceberg.
Of course it’s bittersweet to have any chapter come to a close, but I suppose that only means that the next one is ready to unfold!
Someone gave me the most superb advice just before getting on a plane – “You are not going back, you are simply returning home”.