For me, the concept of home has had an enduring appeal. One of my fondest childhood memories is spending rainy afternoons cutting out furniture from the Sears catalogue and creating a home, complete with the paper family who lived in it, their conversations and activities. The memory is not only of crafting the rooms but the feeling and expression of home lived through the experience of creating it – feelings of familiarity, comfort and belonging expressed in the container of a safe place.What childhood memories do you have? What are your most enduring remembrances of your early homes?
I have lived in many homes through my life, rural and urban, large and small, remote communities and downtown condos, some 23 so far. As a child I watched my mother create inviting homes wherever we lived with a familiar style that included well-worn pieces, some treasures, and a few new elements to suit the space. As an artist, her sense of harmony and design made each home emerge out of the chaos as a comfortable place, a refuge from all the novelty in our new worlds. As I have set up my own households, I have recreated this pattern over and over again. I want my home to be an expression of who I am, the lasting aspects of my character as well as the changing elements of my own evolution as a person.
So ever since playing with those cutouts from the Sears catalogue, I have been interested in home, a student of home in all its various forms and perspectives. The topic of home for me is something like that slightly shabby chair in the corner one keeps coming back to and feels very much at home in, the one that welcomes us back with all its previous moments and provides a comfortable place to have a conversation about the future. And I realize in writing about my own experience that it is not true for everyone. For some, the experience of home is an ideal, a dream, a media concept while the reality is very different. For many children, for example, home is fraught with terror, disruption, abuse or simple neglect – realities that have a lifelong influence on their being at home in the world.
Each of us creates meaning about home, our own truth, emerging out of our past and shaping our current view and future aspirations. While embracing the fragility of humankind and our capacity for violence and harm to each other and to the planet, I would like to examine the possibilities of home as a positive force for change and development. I would like to bring the potential of home to the forefront, expanding the view to the planetary level and beyond, applying our understanding to build a global capacity to see the world as our home, to realize our common destiny and act on it for our collective survival.
I would appreciate your views on home. How does your sense of home express who you are? What has influenced that view? How do you define home? Is it your physical space, your neighbourhood, your country, or the planet as a whole?