“The soul is a stranger trying to find a home, somewhere that is not a where.” ~ Rumi
I’ve given a lot of thought recently to the concept of home.
It’s something we often understand as a physical place. When I was a young child, home was a place in the suburbs of Seattle where my family resided.
This year, I turn 30. As I look back at the previous decade, I’m quite convinced I spent most of my 20s in a perpetual state of “homesickness.” I always longed for somewhere I wasn’t, for a place I perceived as elsewhere. What exactly did I miss?
When I was a little girl, I watched The Wizard of Oz endlessly. I even used to stand in my childhood yard and belt “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at the top of my lungs.
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.”
Fittingly, The Wizard of Oz is a story of a young woman, Dorothy, trying to find her way home. She endures quite a journey to get there. It’s taken me many years to understand the connection I felt to her character, even from a young age.
As a woman in my 20s, I daydreamed about being able to click my red heels together and utter “There’s no place like home” to take me back to this mystical place I longed for, somewhere over the rainbow.
I suppose even as a little girl, I longed to be somewhere I was not. But where was this place over the rainbow I missed and sang to my parents about? What was it? And if I could click my magical red heels together, where would they take me? I longed for home so deeply, yet I’m uncertain I knew where I’d go, even if my red heels could take me there.
In sitting down to write this piece, I tried to count the number of places I’ve called “home” since leaving my family for New York City at the age of 18. I’ve lived in three different countries, three U.S. states, and eight different cities around the globe. I couldn’t tell you the number of moves I’ve made within these places. Honestly, I’ve lost track.
Reflecting on my countless moves from Argentina to New York to Seattle to L.A., I was in search of something deeper: home. Once, I debated throwing a dart at a map—maybe chance would bring me home? From the outside my life seemed sexy, from the inside it felt exhausting.
I exhausted myself from all the wandering. A constant sense of feeling not at home permeated every ounce of my being. I experienced a sense of restlessness wherever I lived and I found myself in quite a conundrum: I wasn’t home in my home, yet I felt homesick away from it, wherever “it” even was.
Recently though, I’ve noticed a shift: I’m often content wherever I am. My desire to jet set and belt my other childhood favorite “I’m leaving on a jet plane; don’t know when I’ll be back again” is waning. Some might say I’m simply growing up, but it feels like something deeper.
On the cusp of 30, it’s beginning to sink in—home is less about geography and more about an internal state of being. Home is a state of contentedness.
My therapist once said something that stuck with me ever since: “When you feel at home and at peace with yourself, you can live anywhere. Your home is something you carry with you.”
I was skeptical when she first said this to me because home as an internal state of being was not something I could grasp. My internal state of being was often fraught with anxiety, fear, and restlessness. Anywhere I moved to, I felt antsy and pangs of discontent abounded.
Home was a place I sought to find externally. While I had glimmers of feeling at peace with myself, geographical places were far too flawed and imperfect to provide me with a sense of contentedness I so deeply ached for.
Mistakenly, I was searching for a physical place to call my “home.” As Rumi alludes to, however, the place where we find our sense of home is not a “where”—it’s not a physical place. We are strangers within our own homes, our physical bodies, because we have lost touch with what it means to be “home” in our souls, within ourselves.
Coming home is a state of being, a state of inner peace and contentedness, not a destination on an airline ticket or a zip code. Undoubtedly, we are likely to feel more “at home” in certain geographic places as a nature of our upbringings. But being “at home” and “being home” is a distinction I’d like to make.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve always felt “home” when walking through the forest. My childhood was spent in deep green forests and playing outside near lakes, rivers, mountains, and greenery. I’m deeply grateful the Northwest was my home for many years.
I’m at home in the woods because the forest allows me to connect to my deepest sense of self, a quiet part of me unencumbered by distraction. I feel deep, internal peace when surrounded by nature, which allows me to just be. I feel connected to my soul. This state of being is home for me.
While my sense of home is derived from a place, it is not the place itself that allows me to “be home.” Place facilitates this sense of being; it is not the feeling of home itself. Place may be inextricably linked to home, but it is not the home itself.
Houses can be constructed, but home is something deeper within. While houses can be bought, home is not a place that can be fabricated, moved, or purchased.
Home resides within the soul, the heart, and body. Home is the quiet company we keep within our bodies. Home is not an earthly place; home is a dwelling place deep within our souls.
As many seeking their spiritual paths have found, I was searching for something I already possessed within me. Home was just waiting to be set free and unearthed. My longings were not longings for something or somewhere over an imaginary rainbow, they were longings to just be content with myself, to be at home in myself.
Many spiritual seekers travel all over the world in search of something. I wonder how many of us are just longing to be home, to uncover something we already possess.
I’ll forever carry a piece of that little girl within me—the one with curly red ringlets, belting her heart out on the front lawn of her childhood home wearing her mother’s high heels. She still loves to hop on a plane and visit her many homes. And while her address will undoubtedly change again, it is time for her to hang up her Dorothy heels and just be. She’s home.
Author: Whitney Easton
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Catherine Monkman