Ai?? What and where is home ?
Words by Alexandre Beddock // Alexandre.firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past seven years, I have lived in five different cities either for volunteering, studying or work. ai???Is home the place in which I currently live at or the one from whence I have come?ai??? ; ai???Do I have one or many homes?ai??? ; ai???Do I need a home?ai??? were among the many questions I have asked myself. This was why I decided to grab a pen, some paper and look for answers.
The essentialists(1) restrict the definition of home to your roots and origins: where you are born and where your kin are from. In fact, it takes some time to ai???make yourself feel at homeai???. Home usually refers to your childhood house: to where you took your first steps, spoke your first words, had your first laugh…your first times; with family and friends surrounding you with love, and who played a meaningful role in shaping yourself as an individual. These physical walls and emotional bonds are a secure place in which one has experienced life, grown up, and become a person.
Grounded in these strong bonds, home structures the foundation of the self but also identity. Your address features on your official papers. It is also what you tell a stranger while introducing yourself: the place you are from. It has a significant weight in the way others perceive, or ai???labelai??? you(2).
Home is unique and essential to each person. During his Odyssey, Odysseus renounces many things such as the immortality offered by Circe, and says no to the most beautiful goddesses of Greek mythology. He simply wants to return to his ai???home sweet homeai???, with the people he loves: his parents and Penelope.
The dramatic rise of poverty, the emergence of new conflicts, the apparition of new climatic catastrophes leave more and more people without a home(3). Home being a reference point, homeless and refugees of any kind lack of space to build their self and would be considered as second-class citizens in our contemporary society. Bob Dylan sings the despair of not having a home, in his legendary Rolling stone: ai???how does it feel? To be on your own, with no direction home. A complete unknown, like a rolling stoneai???.
A moving generation. Being home and ai???awayai???.
All across Europe, young adults are moving, not always out of their own free will. 200,000 young Greeks have been forced into exodus because of the crisis and the accentuation of the austerity measures. In several other countries younger generations face a tough choice: a jobless future at home or going abroad to find work.
Leaving home for another place can be a distressing experience. Homesickness: the feeling of nostalgia for your ai???homeai???, for the everyday existence with those you used to live with. Split between two places, attempting to recreate home as it used to be seems difficult: the ai???homeai??? you knew no longer exists but in your mind it has become a utopia.
Fly the nest: you donai??i??t need a home, you live in the world!
Staying at home keeps you in your comfort zone, taking you away from challenges and discoveries. Home becomes a cloistered environment, an ivory tower. The only things you perceive from the world are filtered by your own customs and habits. They look like the amalgamation of shadows seen by the prisoners of Platoai??i??s cave(4). Candide is raised in this beautiful castle where ai???everything is for the best in the best of all worldsai???. Leaving the castle, he discovers people, wars, the Eldorado, new countries but also new continents…
You do not need to be tied to any place. You can liberate yourself from the notion of home as a fixed place. Everywhere you go, you learn: from social interactions, from different people and from experiences that shape you. These experiences build on each other like bricks and create a solid shelter, a self, that you take around like a snail carrying its shell.
Thanks to what you shared and experienced, everywhere that you settle can be your new beloved home, different each time. Home then becomes everywhere you can walk to!
1 – Essentialist are from a thinking movement believing in the philosophy essentialism
2 – Read more: Goffman, Erving (1959) The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life
3 – Read more: Beck, Ulrich (1986) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity
4 – In The Allegory of the Cavern of the philosopher Plato, people have been emprisoned in a cave since their childhood. The only things they are able to see from the outside are the shadows cast. These shadows constitute reality for the prisoners because they have never seen anything else.