home on traveling

Leaving the Homeland

It’s time for me to leave my home again.  As many of you know, I rent my home out often as a vacation rental and since summer is peak season (folks from the ungodly hot Sacramento Valley love coming over to the coast to chill in the summer), for the past couple of years I’ve vacated my home sometime in June and spent 2-3 months on the road.  My past two summers have included time in the Chicago area, England, France, Hungary, Ukraine, and Bulgaria.  I also did a drive last summer from Chicago through the southwest and back home to Northern California.As is often the case, there is some difficulty in leaving, feeling anxiety and a general discomfort.  There has been a stronger pull since returning home last fall to simply stay put, to not venture forth.  Once I’m on the road, I’m always glad to be there, discovering new places, deepening old friendships and forging new ones.  Yet something in me is not handling uncertainty so well these days, which is unfortunate for me for if I am anything these days, I am uncertain.  I’ll keep you posted for sure, but it looks like I’ll be starting in the Bay Area, then Chicago where I have family and friends to meet up with and business to attend to.  From there, forging onward to Western Europe where I have some nice connections to look forward to.  Truly, I’d like to just let it all unfurl as it will, relax my grip a bit and just flow into the unfoldment.  Today, however, it seems that my grip is a little tight.

Questions of home naturally arise at times like these.  Why the draw to “home?” What is “home?”  Is it simply familiarity and comfort we are looking for?  As I write those questions, I realize that humans, like dogs and many other species, are pack animals, and as such we thrive in relationship with family and community.  We are also cat-like however in that we are territorial, generally preferring to remain within our own familiar geographic boundaries.  It is rare in history for people to simply leave their pack and their geography and forge out on their own.  Even nomads travel with their pack.  I realize that I’ve been holding my anxiety around departure as something faulty within myself to be overcome, to be moved through.  In truth, I think it’s just general human nature.  This explains too why I often sought out familiar faces during my travels, forged deeper bonds and connections, and often felt anxiety when not feeling very connected during travels (see “The Vacuum of  India for Self Study”).  It’s simply not comfortable being disconnected and when we are away from home, our people, and our familiar surroundings, it is easier to experience disconnection.There is something a little more primal in a all of this, though, for me.  I designed my home to be a true holding place, a place of nurturance and support.  In fact, I refer to the home as “The Sea Sanctuary” as it has strong sanctuary-like qualities.  Although I don’t always allow them to be seen by others, I have strong needs for nurturance and support, and without my own family, my home and my community actually provides that holding space for me.  I actually think that the survival of our species has been predicated in part by urge for home.  On a global level, wars are often fueled by our intense connections to our “homeland,” connections which have much deeper genetic emotional roots than those which we ordinarily ascribe to them.  Leaving my “homeland” means severing a bond, the bond to home, to holding and nurturance, and venturing out further into unanchored territory.

My father often said that the hardest part of any sailing journey is casting off the dock lines.  It’s definitely true for me.  Yesterday, I ran across a stack of writings from my 2009 trip to India (another project to complete is an India book with my writings and images).  Just after departing India after 3 ½ months spent traveling there, I wrote in a blog post entitled ‘Readying for Re-entry”:  

“Funny how it was difficult to leave America in the beginning and now it’s even harder to return. It feels like a nice shift for me, towards being more of a world citizen rather than a coastal northern Californian. I still want to go home and be in my familiar surroundings and spend time with loved ones, but the urge or necessity to do so has declined substantially. Nice change.”

I find some encouragement in that.  It’s always nice to be reminded about myself, by myself.  It’s difficult to discount experience when it’s actually our own.  Funny how things move.  I started writing this yesterday and now by this next morning, I am feeling more enthused about venturing forth, not fully, but the grip has loosened some.

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