Thursday, July 18, 2013

Where is Home?

One of my "homes," the Upper West Side of Manhattan, as seen from the Central Park Reservoir running path (practically another one of my homes) on a hot sticky July day.  

That does sound like I'm about to start a laundry list of summer, winter, ski, beach, European, Asian, Hawaiian, Caribbean, etc., abodes that might appear in Architectural Digest as among the numerous residences of the rich and famous.  No, that's not it (because if it was, the sticky July summer home would most certainly NOT be in Manhattan).  

No, again, it's that this morning (from the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment), I watched a TED Talk by Pico Iyer entitled "Where is Home?"  And it really (as the theater folk say) landed.  It has caused me to think about aspects of my life upon which I never focused, being as wrapped up as I was in living it.

Let's give it some thought together, shall we?  Born where?  Parents from where?  Grew up where?  Attended school/college where?  Married where?  Early adult working years where?  Spouse/partner from where?  Raised the kids where?  Working/living now where?  Happy place(s) where?  Ethnic group influences?  Religious group influences?  

If the answers to the above questions are more than a few, like I realized they are with me, then you'll begin to understand Pico Iyer's point.  One of the beauties of his presentation is that home is wherever you take yourself, and that these movements, somewhat "outside" yourself, allow you to find yourself.  He does it much better than I, and that's why he gives the TED Talk and I am then so moved by it that I write a blog post.

And thus, the more time I am away from the place I've called home for over 30 years, and the more I find "myself" elsewhere (and for me now, that's primarily Paris), the more I, too, realize that home is me.  And that all of my life, my residences past and present, my children, my friends and family, my passions and interests, make up my home, wherever I am.  

I also realize that the people I meet who have lived likewise, even if so many other aspects of their particular backgrounds do not mesh with mine, are immediately recognizable to me.  

On a macro level, of course, I begin to see how this globalized culture is changing, and will continue to change, how we see the world, how we choose our friends and mate, where we choose to live, what we choose to do in our lives.  It is a very exciting thing to me, though it might simply elicit a shrug of the shoulders of those in the generations younger than mine.  It's just normal for them - kids born of parents from different parts of the world or of different religions or backgrounds, and then living in a few places and perhaps speaking two or more languages as a native, going to college with people from all over the world and, thus, moving so fluidly (and enviably to me) among their peers, similarly raised.  

Home - the place we come to feel secure and safe, but now also the place we learn and grow and expand our horizons and stretch our comfort zones.  That is quite a definition change, but not if home is "us." 

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