Yesterday morning two fellow bloggers I read regularly posted quotes about “home” within 30 minutes of each other. They live in very different parts of the U.S., write blog posts on very different topics, and have very different life stories, so it was an intriguing coincidence. I had my first “sit up and take notice” moment when I saw these two quotes and the very different messages being conveyed about the same topic. I had my second “sit up and take notice” moment when I read the comments other readers had contributed about these two very different quotes. In each case, the readers had very different interpretations of the quotes from each other and from how I interpreted them. Of course, that’s part of the fun of blogging and commenting, to learn from each other and share thoughts. But I was still surprised. And I’m still mulling over both quotes. Take a look.
The first quote, from Samuel Johnson, is actually part of a longer quote, and his use of language was more common in 1750 than now, so his meaning may not come across to a 2020 audience exactly as he had intended. A similar quote by Johnson is “The end of all endeavour is to be happy at home,” which may more clearly convey what he had in mind: our happiness in our home lives, or private lives, is what really matters.
When we use the word “home”, most of us think first about the place, people and things we return to at the end of a day, or trip, or whatever. For some people that thought is a reassuring one, one of welcome … our sanctuary. The place where we are affirmed and nurtured. Hopefully a place where we feel loved. Sadly, for others, the word “home” may mean loneliness, a reminder of hunger, or even abuse. There’s the ideal and then the reality.
The quote from Kathy Garland can be interpreted in different ways, and her readers came up with several I wouldn’t have thought of. For me it conveyed a dark message, one that said that we should be careful not to accept things in our home that diminish us, restrict us from being all that we can be, or worse, put up with abuse of any kind. That would be my idea of prison. And her quote was putting responsibility on the reader to take ownership of their lives and not let that happen. But some readers immediately saw the “home as prison” analogy as relating to COVID “Stay Home” restrictions, turning their homes into prisons. That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind!
These quotes and the comments that ensued got me to thinking about what the word “home” means to us. I was thinking about this as I was watching the horrors unfolding in the U.S. yesterday. Some legislators, in their remarks once the Capitol building was secured again (I can’t believe I’m saying that), spoke of the Capitol building as the Home of Democracy. Hmm. OK, well, I won’t get into that debate, but it is a commonly used expression, “the Home of __________”, meaning the place of first occurrence.
What about the expression “your home country” or “homeland”? Does that mean the country of your birth, the country where you live, or the country where your heart is? I think it means different things to different people. For me, my home country is where my heart is and where my life is, Canada; it’s definitely not the country of my birth. Sorry, folks.
Some say that home is where your story begins.
Some say that home is a metaphor for your life.
Some say that home is a metaphor for living because we structure our homes the way we want to structure our lives.
Some consider that our real home is planet Earth, which is why we should treat it with far more care and respect than we do.
Some talk about their spiritual home; the place or places in which they feel most “at home” spiritually.
This may get to the root of what “home” really means to most of us if we stop and think about it, the place where we feel most “at home”. It can mean different things to different people, and it can be more than one place for many people. What do you think? What does it mean for you?
Whatever and wherever home is for you, let’s hope you don’t create a prison out of it! Seriously. Find a way to feel at home with yourself wherever you are, especially during these isolating times of COVID restrictions.