I’ve bounced around the US, moving from place-to-place, my whole life, yet I’ve only recently started to think about what “Home” is and what it means to me. As a nomad in the midst of yet another move, with family scattered across the country, the concept of a specific place as Home does not resonate with me. Most people take it for granted that Home is the place they grew up, or where most of their family is located. Or Home is where the spouse and children are. But even if you are lucky enough to know where your Home is, a heartfelt investigation into the true personal meaning of Home and what it feels like may be one key towards a happier life. If we know what Home feels like, we can create it wherever we are.
Home is a very personal concept; what it means to one person can vary greatly compared to what it means to another. But after several months of discussion with people far and wide, Home has some key elements that come up again and again. In fact, I believe these five elements not only define Home, but their presence also allow us to grow as individuals into our full, happy potential. And is this not the purpose of Home?
This goes beyond musical taste, the loudness of the stereo, or whether or not kids are playing kickball in the kitchen. To some, the quietness of just sitting would be less peaceful than having a house full of teenagers during a sleepover. Instead of coming from external forces, the peacefulness is felt inside. It comes from a place of knowing your space and feeling relaxed, where you can retire from the troubles of the outside world in a fashion of your choosing. You feel calm inside because you can simply be yourself, with either a cup of tea and some Bach, or tattoos and some Slayer.
None of us is perfect. We all have our human flaws. Some have these more than others, and some flaws ebb and flow like the tide. But at Home we are accepted for who we are at each moment in time, even if we may not be all that pleasant to be around. Accepting someone doesn’t mean you have to put up with nonsense (or that they put up with yours), it just means you aren’t going anywhere when it comes up. There is a difference between accepting someone and liking all of their facets all of the time, even your own children. But gently discussion our individual nonsense with each other without abject finger pointing or blame provides us all a place to grow positively. But many times acceptance is the only thing that is necessary, instead of discussion.
It is no surprise that Home includes being loved and loving others. For some a cat can provide this; for others nothing less than a spouse, a half dozen children, and two dogs will suffice.While the package might look different from person to person, the love is a constant. We all want to be loved. But many forget that Home is also a place where the love you give is not only wanted, but appreciated and desired. Our happiness is fueled just as much when someone embraces the love we give as it is when we are the receiver of such expressions. Home includes both.
At Home we should be able to express our opinions and be listened to. Many spend so much time deciding how to reply to what someone is saying that they forget to actually listen to what is being said. Home is not about ego or judging others, and it is not about “winning.” It is about working towards harmony in a space filled with flawed human beings. Having a voice, and quietly listening to the voice of others with compassion, is part of Home. We can never get to know someone if we never pay attention and actually listen. We all change every day, and this listening and hearing should never end. And it should always be two-way.
Safety is the most important element when it comes to feeling at Home. It encompasses all of the other elements, and without safety the other elements cannot exist. No one in the Home should have to worry of physical abuse, and they should also be free from suspicion, constant blame, undue scrutiny, distrust, or other forms of mental abuse. Home is a place where we feel safe because we are heard, accepted, and loved, and a place we feel peace because we are safe. We are safe because our family members are loyal to us, and we are loyal to them. Home is a place where your team is, and teammates will help you when needed, provide a safety net when required, and cheer you on when asked. Home is the ultimate “I got your back.”
Please leave your thoughts in comments! I’d love to hear what you think, and other ways you feel Home for yourself and those you love.