They say home is where the heart is. Given how absent most of us are, would that make us homeless? My heart always tends to yearn for something more than it has. A moment in time, an emotional connection, or a place with a specific ambiance and scent. Whenever I get nostalgic, those are typically the scenes or memories that stir my emotions. An unexpected scent or an old tune from days long gone and often forgotten, until the nostalgic bug bites.
In a previous post on nostalgia I was reminded of the influence and exclusion that my younger years had on shaping me into the troubled adult that I am today. We’re all troubled, but only some of us are bold enough to embrace it. It’s the troubled souls, the restless ones, the ones that hold a firm conviction that it can always be better, they are the ones that drive this world forward while the complacent remain pacified with what is, because it can always be worse. It’s odd though that in contemplating both what could be better or worse, we lose sight of what is. I think it’s then that home becomes elusive.
Too often I’ve noticed how many around me judge themselves harshly for a moment in time when they wish they had done things differently. I used to do the same until I realised the awkward truth of such futility. It reminds me of the prophetic tradition that says that whatever came to pass would not have been avoided, and whatever was avoided would not have occurred in the first place. Quite simply, the wisdom behind this confirms that if I were to relive a moment of my life, the reality of that moment would dictate that I would not have known better, I would have felt the same emotions I did given the way my life experiences shaped me up to that point, and I would have made the same decision given the knowledge or insight I had at the time. The sum total of variables influencing that moment would always result in that moment concluding in exactly the same way.
This prompts me to wonder why it is that we judge ourselves so harshly about a moment that is long gone, as if what we know now could have been applied then? As odd as it may seem, our egos play amazing tricks on us. The only reason I can imagine this being a necessity, if in fact it ever could be a necessity, is if we desire for the perception we created of ourselves in that moment to be changed to one we would have preferred instead. We judge ourselves harshly sometimes because we need to believe that we deserve nothing less in our present moment which makes failure that much more bearable, while at other times we do so because the sense of bitter remorse convinces us that we’re still human and not totally insensitive or impervious to the pain and suffering we may have imposed on others. However, even that has an egotistical side to it. I think subconsciously we feed our egos when we convince ourselves that we are or were capable of imposing such damage on others. It makes us more powerful. It makes us more significant.
Who would have thought that arrogance could be reflected in failure? It’s the same arrogance that robs us of home. That place that makes us feel composed, significant, or at the least, at ease. If home is truly where the heart is, why is it that our hearts are rarely where we’re at, but is always yearning for a place, a moment, or a space that is not available to us at that point? The moment we accept that we’re home, we have that much more to lose. The stress of losing it prompts us to protect ourselves preemptively from the loss so that we don’t appear vulnerable to those around us. The more we trust them, the less likely we are to feel threatened by such vulnerability. The less we trust, the more defenses we need to keep the facade of aloofness and composure in place.
Home, for me, has never been about a moment in time, or a place. It sometimes hinted as a connection with others, but never fully landed me in that space. Home, as elusive as it remains, is always closer to my present state than it is to my present location. The comfort I have in what I stand for, and how I subscribe to those beliefs in the face of opposition is what leaves me feeling at ease, or at odds. Nostalgia wreaks havoc with my mind when I lose sight of this. It tugs at my heart strings prompting me to want to recreate a moment in time that by definition is impossible to recreate, and in so doing, leaves me chasing dreams and fantasies while remaining oblivious to the gift of what is now.
There is no shortage of memes or chewing gum wisdom about the gift of time and the gift of the present moment. Everyone is so busy recognising the importance of the present moment that most don’t live it. They’re still focusing on recognising it. It’s ironic that we lose most of life to reminiscing about it instead of creating new memories. Even more ironic is the fact that we often end up reminiscing about times when the gang was together and reminiscing about times when the gang was creating memories that were worth reminiscing about. (That actually is not a typo. Read it again if it doesn’t seem sensible.)
Right there is how we lose the plot, and eventually lose our way home. Home is not a defined place. It’s the composure we feel about the space we’re in, coupled with the experiences it gave us, and the emotional growth or grounding that that offered. It’s sad that so many people spend their lives trying to recreate something they experienced at some point in the distant past. For some it’s a relationship, for others it’s a childhood memory. The only common thing between the two scenarios is that in both instances those memories were created while we weren’t focused on creating memories. Those moments formed while we were living, and not contemplating the beauty of a life that may be lived.
For me, the idea of being home will never be fully formed in this lifetime. In fact, striving for such a fully formed experience suggests a finite end to a life that could easily extend beyond that. Suppose we actually achieve that space called home. What then? Do we stop living and start savouring? If we decide to pursue any goals beyond that point does it imply that it was not home to begin with, or does it mean we’re abandoning our home?
Life is not finite, except when death arrives. Why then do we place so many finite constraints on it while trying to live it? Home is not where the heart is. Home is where my mind and body are at ease with the present moment. Where the past doesn’t feature, but only informs, and the future is still a jewel worth courting. If any of those cease to be true before I die, I would truly be homeless and spent, and worse than this, I will be a liability to those around me, and not a blessing. I pray that I never succumb to such futility or impotence.