I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. --Maya AngelouSo, um, I think I am feeling at home now.
It's been a bit of a struggle. For one thing, I think my concept of home was flawed. I'm such a...
Well, honestly, I don't know what I am.
But the concept of home was always an illusive one for me.
My definition of home is also hard for me to articulate, but I think what I mean by "home" is a place where I feel as though I belong completely, without having to do anything to deserve it. Where I can breathe. Where I'm happy in my skin. Where, when I speak, people hear what I'm saying, beyond the words I choose.
Where I feel that kind of unbroken awareness of joy and connection.
I'm back in Austin, now. A place I lived for 24 years before moving to New York. We Army brats don't put down roots easily, but if I have roots anywhere, it's right here. I went to college here, I had at least two careers here, I met my husband here, both of my children were born here...
And yet, I'm not sure I ever felt completely at home here.
Not in that "unbroken awareness of joy and connection" way. I felt flashes of that, but they were fleeting, like fireworks. I always felt like I was missing some essential part of the language. Like, I'm not really a native speaker. Austin is my second language, I guess.
Then, I moved to New York. During those first three years, I can tell you this: I NEVER felt at home. What I felt mostly was pain. I was in a lot of pain, which trumps all positive feelings and prohibits the formation of close connections with people or place. Y'all, I GREW MY OWN TOMATOES and still never really felt it.
And then I found yoga and found acupuncture and began my transformation back to health and joy. I had moments of feeling DEEPLY at home, especially at the Dharma Yoga Center where I completed my yoga teacher training, but overall, home was still an illusion--a place I thought I could get to if I made enough friends or got more involved in the community. I understood the language in New York better --because New Yorkers are notoriously blunt speakers--but I never really spoke New York fluently. At the end, though, I think I felt more at home than I've ever felt before, nestled into that loving community of fellow yogis, and within a train ride of my spiritual home.
This should have been a clue.
We moved back to Austin, which provided yet a different perspective on "home." People keep saying, "Welcome home!" which makes me smile. Because, you know, I LOOK like the same person who left here five-and-a-half years ago, but I am completely different. Having prolonged exposure to chronic pain changes your very DNA, not to mention the transformation that occurs as you leave that pain behind. It's a bit surreal to be back where things look familiar, but I am seeing them through different eyes.
And THEN, you have to take into account the changes in this city in the time we were gone, which are substantial. Downtown has been utterly revitalized and there are now 30,000 people living in vertical neighborhoods who weren't here before. The traffic is world class--people honk here now. (So far, no one has screamed the f word at me, though, so that's nice.)
Anyway, all this is to say that I've been thinking a lot about the concept of home, lately, and how easy it is to feel lonely and adrift even among scads of people. Even among scads of people who know your name.
I was thinking about this yesterday as I went into the yoga studio to practice. (Did I mention I have a yoga studio? Much more about that in my next post.) I was thinking about how much fun it is to practice with other people, but essentially, a yoga practice comes down to just me and my mat. Wherever I live, wherever I travel: it's just me and my mat. I could be doing yoga in the middle of Times Square on International Yoga Day with thousands of other people, and the only thing that would matter would be me (breath, body, heart, mind) and my mat.
And then it came to me: y'all, home is inside me. I am at home whenever I am at peace inside of me. Whenever I feel connected and still, centered and calm. Home isn't a place, at least, not a physical one. As I work to stay grounded and connected and serene and in touch with the joy within, my feelings of being at home increase proportionately.
I keep expecting everyone around me to make me feel at home and then being disappointed when I feel lonely and disconnected. I've been searching in the wrong direction. Like most of my questions, the answer lies within.
As a completely joyous aside, I was meditating on this during that solitary yoga practice and the answer came. AND, just as it did, I lifted up from headstand to forearm stand, something I've been working on for MONTHS and been unable to do. It made me laugh out loud. The Universe conspires to enlighten me, even when I'm stumbling along.