May 28, 2012

Home (or something like it).

(Ansel Adams)

Homelessness is a country.

It has its own laws. For instance, everything you value in life must fit in a suitcase. And if instead of dying for it, you’d rather live, it must fit inside your chest.

The only good side I see to this is that, after a while, all plastic things turn meaningless. You stop loving objects.

But be careful with all other kinds of attachment. For this too, shall pass. You get so good at undecorating walls, so fast at packing—and slower, with each move, at decoration and unpacking.

You might also develop an unlikely, timeless friendship with Herman Hesse and then, of course, there’s that issue you have with trees. You find them strong and reliable. Because—you think—trees are the most rooted thing out there. They never move. They don’t even raise their voice. Still, they all know each other better than most humans. Their underground network of roots must be the most complex, ancient and advanced communication system the world has ever known.

And yet, just like the willow-you to an Amélie soundtrack, they know sadness and sunsets and longing.


“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent.

You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so.

It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them.

But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is.

That is home. That is happiness.”

~ Herman Hesse


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