Saturday, March 10, 2012

Finding 'Home'

The very first person who ever read my very first blog post long, long ago wrote this. His name is Colin Ellard and he is pretty damned fascinating. Look him up and you'll see what he's all about. You could even buy his book.

He posted this today and I read it quickly while standing behind a shed at work having a cigarette. It stopped me in my tracks.

I had never given thought to the first place where I drew breath. And then, I thought that since I was born in a hospital- not a house, as he was, how profound could that be? I mean, there's just something different about it.

But then I thought.... my spirit dragged my damaged little body into the world and what would it be like to stand in that room and try to fathom the first flicker of 'me'?

It still has me pondering.

The Beginning of Everything

In about three weeks, I'm going to fly back to the beginning of everything. Or at least the beginning of my everything. I'm going home.

One of the things that I'm most interested in is the interaction between home and psyche. I've tried to understand this link in a number of different ways: I've conducted impromptu interviews with friends, family and strangers on the meaning of home. I've designed elaborate virtual reality simulations of homes that people can walk through while wearing a suite of instruments that measure their physiological state. I've talked to architects, designers, stagers, planners about what home means, and I've sat on committees where we've turned questions about home upside-down and sideways.

Now it's time to get a little more personal. I suppose, in a way, you'd call this a pilgrimage. In fact, I'm certain that that's what it is. But in my case, I'm not going to walk the Camino. I'm going to retrace my own path across the planet from the day that I was born up to the present. I'm going to re-visit every place that I've ever called home.

The journey begins in early April when I'll find myself on the doorstep of an ordinary looking house in Stevenage where, about a half-century ago, I was born. I don't know yet whether I'll be able to go inside the house, but that's my fondest hope and the truest beginning I can think of for a project such as this one.

Right now, for me, the idea of standing in the room where I came into being seems too staggeringly huge to even contemplate. I think there are many reasons for this, and my own special professional interest in home is only a part of the story. I'm also an immigrant and, like all who migrate from their homeland to some other domain, the very idea of "home" becomes something great and unknowable -- a mythical land to which there is no easy return. Until I began to think about this project, the very idea that I was "from" somewhere seemed academic and sterile. Intellectually, I knew it was true, but emotionally, I felt nothing. Will all of that change when I see the room where the me-egg hatched?

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