An Answer to An Eternal Question.
Birthdays are a favorite time for reflection, so today, I’m once again assessing where I am and what I’ve learned and if there are any nuggets to share. This year, rather than compiling a list of lessons and isms, it’s one of the eternal questions on my mind and an answer that’s been percolating for quite some time.
Why am I here?
As I was walking to get coffee one morning, I saw a man across the street, out for his morning stroll. I paused to watch him because there was something magnetizing about his carriage. He was elegant, wearing a cappuccino-colored suede jacket over jeans. I’m guessing he was early 60’s, had shoulder-length silver hair pulled back into a loose yet neat ponytail and wore large sunglasses, as he was walking toward the bright, rising sun.
What captivated me was his gait. He had a long, confident stride as he walked with a cane. But the cane wasn’t there to help him walk; it was a prop, a walking companion, a dance partner as he swung it in front of him and struck the sidewalk in a steady rhythm.
A few months later, while in France with friends, I saw a woman who, although very different, reminded me of that man. We were in Saumur, in the Loire valley. It was a perfect afternoon; after buying chocolate and strolling the charming cobblestone streets that seemed to meander forever, we stopped for lunch at a sidewalk cafe. It was mid-afternoon when I noticed the woman.
She caught my eye when she was about a block away. She was also late 50’s, early 60’s, with a smart chin-length bob; she had an easy swing to her stride, her casual, denim shirtdress swayed gently with each step. As she sat at the table next to us, we exchanged greetings, “Bonjour, Madame.” Her voice was low in timber and strong in expression. She settled back with her espresso and cigarette, lost in her own reverie. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
What was it that struck me about this man and this woman? They were both comfortable in their skin. But, it was more than that. They each had a deep sense of home about them, of personal ownership that preceded and walked alongside them.
What is home?
I've been thinking a lot about home lately. It has different meanings to people, at different times in their lives. For me, it started as a journey from the outside in.
I've lived in 21 homes during my life. That seems like a lot. Looking back, each home signified a theme and a progression of some kind. I remember feeling safe and loved in the family homes in which I grew up, where I never questioned where or what home was, it was with family.
As a young adult, home meant striking out on my own, being able to make my own decisions about how I furnished it and lived there. Responsibility was the theme.
The first home I owned, a small bungalow in Royal Oak, Michigan, was a big mark of adulthood. Even though the bank was the true owner, I had a real sense of independence and ownership for the first time in my life. It was the first time I heard the phrase, "The house has good bones." I could make it a home and it was glorious to make it my own.
The house I owned with my ex-husband was new construction and we shared all of the decisions as to what went into that house to make it our own. Adventure, conflict, and compromise were rotating themes. It was an adventure for a while until we grew apart, realizing that things didn’t fit. I never felt like I fit in there and I kind of lost myself for a bit. So, that home represented coupling, a loss of personal ownership, then un-coupling.
Shortly after divorcing I transferred to Los Angeles with the company I was with and I bought a sweet little condo that felt like being a part of something grand, after which upgraded to a house with a big yard. I loved that house which was filled with so much happiness. Then, something else happened to rock my world.
I got laid off from the corporate job with the corner office. I was in the bubble that millions found themselves in at that time. There I was, without a job and with a big mortgage payment. I blew through savings over the next several months, and I got a tenant. I went through all of the processes made available during that time of crisis and tried to save my house. The American Dream became a nightmare.
It was in that house that it began to sink in, deep, that a house is not the home. The house is brick and mortar, slats and beams. I sold the house, downsized and moved on, as my career and life moved on too.
My idea of home started to change. I began some soul-searching spiritual work and the external signals became louder.
“I need harmony in my home.”
I was in a brief living situation that was difficult and at times combative. I didn't feel at home. I said, “I need harmony in my home.” It started an ongoing conversation between the housemates about what that meant and might look like. That house represented a major shift in my definition of being home.
One morning I woke to up to find a spectacular spider web, the most intricate I’d ever seen, outside my door. It was a huge expansive mansion with its orb weaver and homeowner posing in the center. When I returned at the end of the day, the web and the spider were gone.
The next morning, the same spider built another web in the exact same spot. Fascinated, I learned this particular spider actually eats her web after the laborious task of building it, only to build it again the next day, and the next, and the next. She had a very specific intention while building it and also while tearing it down and taking it with her.
It got me thinking about was how this wise spider was never homeless because she carried her home with her. Inside of her. It was always with her, even as it was displayed for the world to see, she was connected to it, it was a part of her and represented who she was.
Well, that changed my entire perspective. It was empowering.
Home is an inside job.
When I shared living space, whether, with an ex-husband, tenants or a variety of roommates over the years, I appreciated the lessons of community and relationship. Many of those people I consider some of my greatest teachers.
There’s a reason some axioms are evergreen. They are true: Home is where the heart is. There’s no place like home.
There’s no searching for home when you have it with you always. The cane-walking man, French woman, and spider taught me that. I settled into my own sense of home, more contained, more within.
I have good bones. I can make a home here, where true harmony resides.
Rumi said, “Remember, the entrance to the door of the sanctuary is inside you.”
The seeking really does start inside. Often we find ourselves searching outside of us, looking for happiness, purpose, validation, which is why so often we can come up empty, constantly searching for something that feels elusive.
So, as I ponder on this day, beginning my next year around the sun, the answer to this question is crystallized.
Why am I here?
To come home. Everything starts and ends there.
What has become clear, in order to discover your purpose, you must first come home to yourself. When you launch from solid inner homeownership, your purpose becomes your way of being. And, when you share your purpose with the world in a way that helps and serves others, it’s a beacon that shines from the center of your soul, the hearth of your home. You no longer feel the angst of searching for something outside yourself.
And, it's when you are safe and self-loved in your inner home that you are truly ready to invite someone else in, someone who will reflect his or her own safe and loved self within. How magical is that?
It takes courage to unlock the door to your inner home. For me, it’s been through deep meditation, prayer, plant medicine work, writing, sharing and being in community with others who are seeking as well. Curious conversations are illuminating.
What are some keys to unlock your inner home?
Carve out committed quiet time where you’re just being with you. Commit to it every day. Get up a half-hour earlier than the rest of your household. Or shut everything down an hour before bedtime as the house quiets down for the night.
Meditate to get in touch with your breath and your body. Find a guided mindfulness meditation that will ease you through it. When my mind wanders, I focus silently on this mantra: “I am home.” On the inhale: “I am.” On the exhale: “Home.” It’s incredibly grounding and simple.
Breathwork is extremely powerful to open your energetic pathways and to get in touch with yourself.
Journal to communicate with your inner voice, the homeowner. Your inner voice, your higher wisdom, the God inside of you, is the one that says “welcome home.”
And, hey, I still love and enjoy a beautiful home to live in. I’m a Libra, what can I say? I’m comforted by nature and aesthetics and my surroundings and enjoy spending time and energy creating my living sanctuary. But, now I enjoy my environment even more because I’m not seeking the satisfaction out there.
So, why am I here?
I am here to come home and to live my purpose from here. To transcend basic human struggles by knowing I’ll find most answers inside my own wisdom and by integrating that knowledge into my daily life. It’s not the only answer to why I am here. But, to me, everything starts and comes from that sense of home.