Thoughts From The Stoop

Today, while taking a break from mowing and enjoying Bob and Christine’s generous offer of free drinks from their garage fridge, I sat on the steps inside their garage and started thinking; What is it that really makes a home? It sounds like a simple question, and surely there are enough cliched answers to the question, but it’s one that has hounded me for a long time. It would be easy to say I have five homes (My mother’s, my fathers, UCONN, Columbia, and Moi’s house) but it often feels it would be just as easy to say I have none.

Often, people would begin the definition of a home with a place to live, be it an apartment, a house, etc. However, I can’t say I feel that attached to any one place. Indeed, most often, they seem to be like possessions, which I have become very suspicious of lately. They seem to tie one down more then make them happy, and for that reason I’ve been trying to avoid gaining new ones.

All that avoiding new possessions has sure helped me save a lot of money, but that certainly hasn’t helped either. Aside from the financial security of a roof overhead and food in your belly, money doesn’t buy happiness.

What about a job? Well, really, what job? But beyond that, I’m not sure. It’s possible to feel satisfied and even a sense of belonging from your work, it’ much more common to work for money and that’s all. Anyway, I am certainly nowhere near a place where a profession provides me any feeling of security or even especially of fulfillment.

Would fitness make me feel more at home? I should say, would training my body make me more inclined to feeling at home, or help me grow more attached to my surroundings. Well, no. If nothing else, I have good health – I am not obese or sick – and, much like money, I can’t see more fitness making me happier unless it was to help me accomplish something greater.

Finally, the thing that I think most people would say makes a home, is the people you love. Home is where the heart is, right? Well, I can’t say. Certainly, a special person can help you make a home even under the worst conditions. But people change. People leave, and eventually people die. Everyone anyone knows, they know only fleetingly. A relationship that lasts a lifetime is still a process of trying to truly know someone, as much the first moment you meet them as the last moment you’re together. Ultimately, the process is futile; we can refine our understanding of a person every day, even help shape the person they become as they age, but ultimately our understanding of them pales in comparison to the complexity of the real thing, forever locked away inside them, inaccessible.

Which leaves us only with ourselves. Maybe the best thing we can do, when looking for a home, or a feeling of home, is to learn to be at home with ourselves. Learn to be at peace with yourself, isolated from outward things and even from outward people, and you can be happy wherever you are. I really believe that to be true, but I also know I am far from being there myself.

[Edit – I wrote the original post today around noon. Tonight, my mom passed on to me a quotation from Lao-tzu from one of those tiny thought-a-day calenders that Moi gave her last Christmas (I think). My mom has passed on to me a supreme appreciation for cosmic coincidences, so we were pretty impressed with how this lined up with my post today:  At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.]

(As a little end note, I’m sure some people close to me will read this and worry, but please don’t. I was just thinking, and wanted to share my thoughts.)

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