November 11, 2013

Hiraeth: Homesickness for a Place that Doesn’t Exist.

The idea of “home” has always baffled me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never truly felt at home anywhere.

There are places where I’ve felt comfortable, but they were never technically my “home.” Even as I get older and moved to different towns and cities, I’ve never lived in an apartment or house that I’ve felt completely settled in.

There’s always this nagging restlessness, this feeling that ‘no, this isn’t home either.’

So, where is home? Some can argue that home is inside—that it’s with you all the time. I’d like to believe that and deep down, I think I really do.

But I can’t shake this feeling. All my life, I’ve sought refuge everywhere outside of myself—my grandmother’s house, friend’s houses, the homes of relatives. I’ve always felt like a visitor because, well, I was. I’ve never felt like I completely belonged anywhere, especially the place I was supposed to belong.

Over the past 15 years, I think I’ve moved just as many times. I’ve noticed a pattern: I never stay in one place longer than two years, tops. I usually bounce within a year to year and a half. I just can’t seem to get settled, to put down roots.

This is both disturbing and enlightening to me.

It disturbs me because it makes me wonder what I’m running from. Or better yet, what I’m searching for. I like that I’ve lived in so many places and met so many people. No matter where I go, I always seem to run into someone I know. I kind of like that.

I’ve come to embrace this restless energy inside of me, because it’s propelled me to keep moving, exploring, reaching. It keeps my curiosity alive. Sometimes, I feel like it keeps me young.

And sometimes it wears me down.

I’m f*cking tired, all the time. It tears my sleep away because it never lets my mind rest. I’m always thinking ahead, always worrying, always planning. Always trying to make things work. I’m never completely grounded in the here and now, and as we all know, this moment, right now, is the only one that truly matters.

“The only present that might exist is the one in my mind. It’s the closest we come to the absolute present.”

But then I wonder if I’m always tired because I’m always searching for a place and a time that doesn’t exist. I’m pouring all of my energy into creating the life I’ve always wanted to live, the person I’ve always wanted to be, and to some extent, the place I’ve always wanted to come home to.

Hiraeth: a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.

I guess that’s an apt metaphor for life.

We’re all searching for something. Some feel it more intensely, and those are the movers and shakers, the ones who really leave their mark on this world. They let that restlessness—that drive for more—fuel them. They soak in all the places and faces and names and gestures and words and glances and (not so) chance encounters and joys and tragedies of life that propel them forward. They use it all as fodder to create something bigger; bigger than themselves. Bigger than life, sometimes.

We’re really all time travelers, maybe trying to re-create a feeling we once felt or a dream we once had.

And through this yearning—this nostalgia—we come to create something even better.

“In Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means the ‘pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.”

We draw from our pain. We draw from loss and from heartache. I think the only line we can draw between right and wrong is whether or not we’re utilizing our experiences for the betterment of ourselves and the world around us. Whether or not we’re making something beautiful from something awful. Whether or not we’re able to transform pain into love.

I think home resides in the act of taking something born from darkness and baptizing it in the light of renewal. When you’re able to find peace within pain and build from it, manifesting something you never dreamed possible because it radiates so much f*cking light and purity and love—that’s when you’ve come home.

Home isn’t a place; it’s a state of being.

Home is balance. Home is reconciliation. Home is forgiveness. Home is release.

“It’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again.”

We ache, we journey back and we take those grueling lessons that keep showing up for us, disguised as different faces and bearing different names, and we morph them into something better. We wake up and step into our power. We lay the foundation for the home we’ve either been struggling to return to, or the one we never had.

Home lies within us all. It’s just a matter of how we choose to make our way to it.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Flickr.}

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