April 04, 2011
Wherever I Lay My Hat...
A word that most certainly evokes strong emotions, powerful thoughts and unique images in everyone's perception.
We all carry an idea in our head of what home means to us, or what we would like it to mean.
For some of us, the word brings about a sense of familiarity, security and happiness. For others; melancholy, longing, emptiness and even perhaps a sense of loss or absence of something that once was and no longer is.
Or something that never was in the first place.
Already as a child, I moved around extensively with my restless parents. As an adult, I unintentionally adopted this lifestyle, relocating and crossing country borders - and even continents - pretty much each decade. Thus as a consequence, the term home has become endlessly elusive and almost unattainable in my perception. At times I feel as if the search for a home and particularly the idea of belonging somewhere - has become the ultimate quest in my adult life.
But then along the way somewhere, as I moved out on my own and set out to conquer the world, the meaning of a home became increasingly obscure. At first it encompassed my parents home, later the city where they lived, then a country and finally even an entire continent. In time I began to experience a sense of almost an identity confusion and the yearning to belong started to manifest itself. Gently at first, a subtle longing somewhere deep inside, perhaps almost a secret wish. I recall the first wave of nostalgia, realizing that I might never be able to call any country my home, no matter however much I try. As the bonds that once tied me to the place of my birth were forever severed and no new were possible to attain.
This realization came however with an acceptance and perhaps a certain sense of relief as well, or a freedom if you will. "Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home..." became my motto and made it easy for me to settle down effortlessly almost anywhere.
And I believe, in retrospect, this quest brought me on a journey and a passionate search for love. I realized that I was looking for someone who would bring that sense of home I once felt, back to my reality. A man, that would offer me a safe harbour and terminate my restless voyage, by accepting and loving my estranged heart unconditionally. A man that would make me feel like I undoubtedly belonged by his side, the same way I once belonged with my family.
Only today I am sadly realizing that such a man most likely does not exist and my search only led me to numerous misty illusions.
My life is currently in the state of a change and as my future is heading in a novel direction, I find myself reevaluating the term home once again.
I still do not believe that it is only defined by a geographical location, although I have come to the understanding that certain places do evoke in us a strong sense of serenity, security and familiarity - whether these are memories of transcending moments spent in certain locations in our past, or current ties to a special place.
To some degree home is also truly defined by people - those that offer us security and the gift of an unconditional love, trust and deep care. It could be our near family, a significant other, our children, or it could be our friends.
Still, my new realization makes me see that a true home is something we carry with us and is that which we harbour within us. It can not be taken away from us as well as it can not be given to us. Some will find it with little effort, some of us never will.
Perhaps at times one has to go back to be able to move forward. Occasionally our answers for the future might lie in what we left behind.
And perhaps it is never too late to go back home.
(About the photographs in this post: All are taken by my father last year, in and around the place where I was born. I have not been back in the beautiful Tatra Mountains for almost twenty five years...
Please click each image for a larger view.)