Searching for a Sense of Place … Finding Home

Growing up, I had a definite sense of place … belonging … home. My small two block area of the suburbs also contained numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandparents lived next door. Home consisted of a stay at home mother, a hard working dad, family dinners every night and weekly weekends away together at the cabin in the woods. The majority of my extended family lived in the same area and we spent a lot of time together. Sometimes it was big and messy with all the families trying to get along, but we were together. We were there for everyone’s successes, failures, joys and pains … whether good or bad times, we all “belonged” to something. Everyone had their role to play, their responsibilities … and even if we did not always get along, we had that sense of belonging.

Today, the world has become extremely fast-paced and impersonal for most families. They move numerous times to new homes, new jobs, new schools, new cities. Blood relatives are spread all over the globe. Disposable marriages are growing, giving children numerous “homes”. Constant movement and change have caused us to rein in our attachments to people and places because it makes it emotionally easier and most time there is not enough time to develop strong connections with people before the next move takes place. The definition of “friend” has been degraded to casual, acquaintances found on the internet. Many small, hometown communities have expanded and grown so much, that they have lost the aspects of what made them feel like home.

Is this a better or worse way to grow up and live? Depends on who you talk to … but, in my opinion, it has caused problems and I believe people have lost their sense of place. We have stopped learning to live with the faults and gifts of a circle of close friends and family. Instead, now we often find ourselves in a huge, untouchable, world of blank faces of people we don’t know and don’t take the time to know … an impersonal world with no one to hold us … physically or morally responsible.

The search for home seems to be a struggle for many of us. The ideal that anywhere you are is home … does not work for me. I need an association with a place or person to make it feel like “home”. And, the way the world is today, it is very difficult quest. Several friends of my generation are in emotional need of that feeling of home they had when they were younger. It is a very difficult pursuit when everything and everyone has been broken apart and scattered to the wind. How do you find it again? How do you redevelop that feeling of belonging and home?

If you ask most people to define home, they will say something like … Home is that comfortable, friendly, feeling we get when we are somewhere (or with someone) that makes us feel safest, happiest, warmest, most restful, loved, most like our genuine, blemished self with no worries, stresses or cares.

At a funeral I went to this week, home and responsibility for living a good life were really stressed. My uncle had that … oldest of ten children, married to a woman with five siblings, children of his own, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, …. he was surrounded by family and his family’s safety and prosperity were his job. He did not have to search for home …. he built home into his life.

I think the ability to build a true home has become more and more difficult – the change of place and people in our lives is just too fast. Therefore, many of us are searching for it instead. The search for home can be life long – it can be impossible … the longing for a past home can be heart breaking.

Times have changed how we all live, however, I believe that “home” is something you are not just going to fall into during a search … “home” is built. The people I know who are the happiest and most at home, are the people that know how to “build a home” in their lives. I pray the skills and ability to “build” a home for ourselves and the people we care about is not lost in a past generation. A true home makes for a healthy life.

The author Wendell Berry was recommended to me for related writing … I have not read them, yet but his books “A Place on Earth: A Novel” and “Remembering” both sound interesting. A reviewer says of Berry …. “He writes about the loss of community, the breakup of families, the deadening ways of consumerism, the way wonder is poisoned by a materialistic view of life, and he does it with quiet, logical eloquence, demanding that we value the old ways again. He speaks what we all feel, but have no idea how to say…. (to read the entire review)

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~ by bearyweather on February 5, 2010.

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