Home is where the hearth is

September 12, 2022 Comments Off on Home is where the hearth is

Every bike ride comes to an end, some with the glory of a supernova, some with the faded tiresomeness of an aged British monarch, but most with with some mixture of accomplishment and relief, as this one did. It’s always easy to say where you went. Why is it so hard to say where you arrived?

I arrived home, which is anomalous for me. I’ve been homeless since I was a kid with periods of homefulness, and I expect I’ll be homeless again. We all will.

The first thing I did this morning was joyously walk and then do 1-minute sprints in my bare feet. Riding a bike is most excellent, but the sweat inside the socks gradually abrades my hard-earned calluses even though my first act after each day’s ride was to cast aside all footwear and spend my time at camp shoeless. Feet are exquisitely innervated, and a good long walk-jog on a dirt road fires up your neurons like nothing else.

One thing I meditated on was home. What is it?

Home is, foremost, a place infused with love. When you come home, you come to love. Sometimes it’s the love of a person and sometimes simply the love of your cat. In either case, you and another being share a quantum entanglement that merges core parts of your matter. “Is that love?” you may ask, and I’d simply reply with Louis Armstrong’s riposte when he was asked to define jazz. “If you have to ask the question, you ain’t never gonna understand the answer.”

Home is a place of security. Not safety exactly, but security. It is a wall, a roof, an arbor, or a ring of stones that demarcate “here” from “there” and that enfold you, even if it can be easily stepped over or it opens up on the sky. Security is far removed from protection, surveillance, and defense. Security is belonging. Security is the inanimate object’s proxy for love, it is the quantum entanglement between people and the things that demarcate the physical space to which they belong. The emblem of security is not a weapon but the hearth signaling warmth and welcome, its fire reminding you of the hearth’s deep roots in humanity, light against the darkness.

Home is a place of peace. It is almost impossible to have a home with a television, for example, because it’s always several televisions, and because the television is an implement of noise, conflict, and distraction. Peace doesn’t have to mean quiet, though. A home filled with the noise of children is often the most peaceful sound of all. And peace doesn’t mean you never fight. It means that all fights lead to peace, that no feuds simmer, that all passions are eventually overmastered by calm.

Home is always transitory. Some homes, through death or misfortune, eventually lose their love. Some their security. Some their peace. Some become mausoleums, filled with the dead relics of lives you once lived. This doesn’t mean that home is dead, simply that it’s time to move on to the next one.

In any event, when you arrive home, you know it. And if you don’t, the soft cry of the cat and the gentle press of his long, black fur will drive the fact … home.


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