In Joshilyn Jackson's book gods in Alabama, Arlene Fleet promises God she'll never lie again, stop fornicating with every boy she meets, and never cross the state line into Alabama again, as long as God keeps the body of the man she killed hidden.
For this month's Blogging for Books, write an original blog post about one of three topics: lying, fornicating, or going home.
This Blogging for Books entry is modified from a December 2003 post, Home.
When violinist Isaac Stern was asked to describe what it felt like to be onstage, he said, "It's where I'm home; where I'm most happy to be."
Home. On one hand, it's a physical location. A place you can point to and identify. On the other hand, it's a feeling. Serenity, maybe. Peace, comfort, or happiness. Having that place in your life where you are "home" brings feelings of contentment and calm. Things match up. The physical and the spiritual are in synch.
But what happens when the physical location is no longer the spiritual location? When the feelings no longer live at that address? What happens when you feel as if there is no place that will bring you that peace of mind and peace of heart? It feels unsettling. It feels sad and empty.
There are times I've had a home -- that is to say, a physical location -- but not that feeling of contentment. I've had homes that never felt "homey" and jobs where I felt I didn't belong. Sometimes I could identify it, and other times I would bob around in seas of uncertainty, straining to figure out which direction I should go. I was always looking and wishing for that sign with a big arrow: Home this way! It certainly would have made things a lot easier. Bobbing is a bore and uncertainty is tiring.
It seems we are constantly seeking that place where the spiritual lives in the physical. Where we can not only experience peace and contentment, but also point to that place or that situation and say, "This is the place. This is the reason." Everybody takes their own journey at their own pace to find contentment. But it's hard for me to remember and even harder to accept when someone's concept of "home" and happiness is so different from my own.
Because of our electronic umbilical cord, we have the capacity to be an incredibly connected society. There is no greater wonder than having a simultaneous chat with family members down the street, across the country and around the world. Distance may not make a physical home possible, but the computer enables us to build a haven out of bits and bytes. It is here we can nurture our spiritual connection to family and friends by telling stories, sharing burdens and celebrating successes -- all the while decorating our lives with winking smiley faces and keystroke-saving acronyms, IMHO.
But these homes can be fragile structures. Where some see valuable connections to friends and family, others see nothing more than an alternate reality. To some, the designation on-line friend carries the implication that once the connection is lost, the person -- as well as the relationship -- is as well. These ephemeral friendships are nothing more than electronic mirages. It's the ultimate performance art. Can you hear me now?
In this act of going home -- journeying to that place of peace, serenity, and happiness -- we often face moments when we arrive at a crossroad and meet people from widely divergent paths. These encounters have the potential to be uncomfortable, uneasy, or messy, to say the least. But when we take the time to listen to the stories others have to tell and then share our own experiences, we not only may get a better understanding of exactly where home is, but also what home means.
We can be so focused on our own journey towards that which we call home, that we neglect to recognize those around us. Some are walking along the same path before travelling in a different direction. Some are searching for that sign with a big arrow, unsure which way to go. As you find yourself going home, be aware of those around you. Encourage those who are lost. Recognize those who walk nearby. Celebrate with others when your paths cross and share your stories. We may find peace and friendship in different ways and places, but ultimately, we are all searching for that feeling of happiness, community and contentment that comes from being home.
I'll look for you on my journeys.