When you’ve lived in in nineteen cities (in seven countries), you don’t really get the concept of “home.” People ask me where I’m from, and I don’t know how to answer. “But where do you think of as home?” they ask. And I choose whichever city pops into my head first. It’s easier to make something up than to suffer the strange stare of incomprehension that follows if I insist that I have no concept of home.
It was slightly reassuring to discover recently that I’m part of a sizable group referred to as “global nomads.” And from the online resources, it seems that we all suffer a bit in our emotional homelessness.
What’s interesting, though, is that I’ve noticed a change in the past two years. I’m finding home. And it’s not exactly where I expected it to be.
What’s even more fascinating is that I’m not the only one. In fact, there seems to be something of a global phenomenon.
For me, the sensation first arose in sort of predictable circumstances. I’d lived in Montreal for four years with my husband and our two young children. We’d bought a house and settled into it. And we’d developed certain routines in our neighborhood. So the standard ingredients were in place. But the feeling of home hadn’t really hit yet. Then one evening the four of us were dancing together in the playroom to a Will.I.Am song from the Madagascar 2 soundtrack:
“I’ve been around the world in the pouring rain,
Feeling out of place, really feeling strange,
Take me to a place, where they know my name
Cause I ain’t met nobody that looks the same…
It’s good to have someone, good to have someone,
To relate to, to relate to…
See I’ve been traveling, traveling forever
But now that I’ve found a home,
Feels like I’m in heaven.”
As I looked at my little family – people I could “relate” to both literally and figuratively – I felt this rush of groundedness and connection and love. This must be what home feels like, I thought. I’d found it at last. And it really did feel like heaven (and still does!).
Days later, I arrived at a three-day retreat called The Art of Hosting. (The full title is something like The Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations About Things That Matter and That Lead to Lasting Change.) Forty people had gathered for an immersive learning experience that created almost immediate intimacy, even though most of us had never met before. And over the three days, I discovered a group of people who spoke my language, who cared about the things I was passionate about, who understood me completely, it seemed. And that Will.I.Am song kept playing in my head:
“I need my people, my people, take me to my people…”
These are my people, I thought. And with that same sense of groundedness, connection and love, I thought: this is home, too.
Finding “my people” gave me courage to speak more openly about the things I believed in – if there were 39 of them at the retreat, there might be more! And the more I spoke up, the more of them I discovered. It became something of an obsession. I scheduled conversations almost every day; I joined 30 LinkedIn groups and participated in at least as many online discussions, all in search of my “tribe.” And to my surprise, they were there, wherever I looked. The feeling of home settled deeper. Maybe it wasn’t in any place; maybe it was in the relationships with people, in the sense of belonging and of being seen and understood and valued.
Then, a few months ago, toward the end of a workshop I was teaching about my most passionate convictions – recognizing and nurturing the life in our organizations and ourselves – one of the participants said:
“The concepts you’re offering us are so challenging because they go against assumptions we’ve held for decades. And at the same time, they feel like home.”
I loved that. Home as something you recognize at a deep level, as if it is part of you that you’ve reconnected with after a long separation.
Soon after the workshop, a newly discovered member of my “tribe” sent me an email affirming my work and its contribution to humanity’s “sacred journey Home.” He wrote about the important task of reintegrating ourselves with the Earth and each other. And in this renewed wholeness, we find home. This is such a powerful concept. And I feel it.
Home. Hosting. Wholeness. Big, expansive concepts that are not, in the end, tied to any one place but to our connection with each other and with all of life.
Finally, today I came across this pearl of wisdom from personal coach Julie Daley:
“When you know, deep in your heart, deep in your bones, that who and what you are is sacred, beautiful and worthy, you’ve come home to yourself.”
I find that so many of us are feeling called to make the “sacred journey Home” in our connection with the Earth and each other. And in making that journey, we are coming home to ourselves.
At either end of the journey, it seems that home truly is where the heart is.