Journeying Home

Where Is Home?

Don’t worry that your life is turning upside down.How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come? -Rumi

Where is home?  This has been a question that I’ve asked myself over and over through the years. Growing up, we moved thirteen times before I even made it out of high school.  I learned early on that a home is not a house.  Growing up, my home was my family, the laughter we shared in each house we lived in, the work we did together to create a nice place to be.   Growing up, this was home.  No matter where we moved or what new friends I had, we had each other as a family to give me a sense of home.

But deep inside, something still called to me.  I knew there were other worlds to explore, countries to see, accents to hear, foods to be tried, and other cultures and viewpoints that I had to discover. I’ve always played it safe, though.  I’ve moved around a lot, but stayed within the borders of the US where I was born. The farthest I ever ventured was living in Hawaii for several years, and this seemed somewhat exotic for a while.

However, my restlessness still rose up inside of me like a flower blossoming.  I still didn’t feel like I had found home.  I felt like parts of me were still to be found in the great “out there”, parts of me were waiting to be discovered.  I had traveled for many years to exotic places, places that stirred something in me, places that made me feel more at home than I’d ever felt.  “How is it?”, I wondered, that I could feel more at home in the tranquil rice fields of Bali, smiling at someone who didn’t know my language, or on the noisy streets of Mexico where everyone smiled at me offering a “Buenos Dias” or “Buenos Tardes” when I passed by?

Everywhere I have lived, I have created a house that has been my sanctuary, surrounding myself with beautiful things, creating a world that I felt peaceful in, nurtured, and safe.  But, recently, I realized that, too, just wasn’t enough.  I had to give up those things to have the life I wanted.  A life of exploring, a life of knowing others on a deeper level, a life of freedom where on any given day, I could decide to go anywhere in the world that I chose.  And so, I sold my “home”, I sold all of my nice things, and I prepared to set out.

It took having no “home” to realize what home is.  For two months now, I have been homeless, staying with friends who have generously given me a place to stay, as I get ready to set out.  I have had no dresser for my clothes, nor much order or sanctuary. And I’ve come to realize, home is the sanctuary inside myself.  It’s the gratitude and calmness I’ve had to give to myself in the midst of disorder and uncertainty.

I recently went to Burning Man for the fifth time.  When you enter the gates you are greeted with the words, “Welcome Home.” And yes, this place is something like a home. Why? “Why is that?”, I wondered this time.  It’s because out there on the playa, people are connecting with you on a deeper level.  No one is using their phone to scroll through the status updates of the rest of their friends while they are talking to you.  They are truly listening to you, and you are truly listening to them.

And you aren’t afraid to be vulnerable.  To talk about your dreams, your fears, or even the mistakes you made.  And that’s how it’s always been when I travel.  When I’ve met other road warriors ,we take a genuine interest in each other.  We find ourselves talking and hanging out for hours, and we don’t even know each other’s name.  And I guess, that’s how it is when you know you’ve found home. You find yourself in the same space that your heart is and you just want to stay there and never leave.  Home is fully occupying each moment that you are in.  You aren’t filled with longing to be somewhere else because you know you are exactly where you should be for that moment.  And you drink in every single thing about it until it fills every part of your body with pure joy.

And so, as I journey to Mexico soon, I don’t find myself asking, “Will this be home?” I find myself creating it around me within every moment happening along the way, within every glance of a stranger, within every moment of hope and gratitude that I feel.

Every moment of my life is now home.

Val Dawson