As I write this, I feel as though I’ve been away from home for a while, attending to matters out in the world and ignoring this special place I keep coming back to. I guess that’s not entirely true. I have been searching for and finding home in new ways for the past couple of months yet this feels like that proverbial return to the comfort of the familiar.
Yi-Fu Tuan in Space and Place: The perspective of experience, says we humans require a sense of place – the familiar, the safe and secure, the stable pause of belonging to a home base. He contrasts this sense of place with space – the open, free, less known, more risky feeling of movement. The ideas ‘space’ and ‘place’ require each other for definition, and for fulfilling our needs for both intimacy and curiosity, permanence and change, shelter and venture, attachment and freedom.
Returning home in this sense, from a less familiar space, is a bit of a paradox. We feel the return journey is stepping back in time, although it is in the future tense, ahead of us. As I return to Phoenix today, writing on a plane for example, I have a distinct feeling of stepping back into the familiar environment of home, although it is a couple of hours from now that I will actually be there. Tuan sees home, therefore, as a center of one’s life. It is where we begin, where we venture from, and where we return.
For me, though, the recent venturing has been less a tangible external geography and more an amorphous internal exploration. The space I have been inhabiting feels new, unknown, a strange inner landscape I have arrived in but don’t really belong in yet, a whole new world. I know from human development research that we move through stages in our travels in life, each successive stage bringing more breadth and depth, more perspectives on reality. I feel as if a diaphanous veil has lifted and I can now see a new territory stretching ahead of me. Strangely, it has many of the same elements of home I am familiar with but they have been reframed, shown in a new light and clarity.
So my writing now about home feels like a return, perhaps like the hero who having completed her journey with all the tests and trials and transformation, then returns to the same place with new eyes. For me, these new eyes see many new challenges and potentials for home that I’ll expand on as I explore this new domain.