An ode to home
Updated: Sep 15, 2019
“Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” ~ Horace Greeley*
I love this quote.
It makes me think of adventure, freedom, individuality; of strength, courage, resilience. It also makes me think hard about all that it meant at the time to “grow up with the country.”
It’s a poignant quote not only given the moment we are in culturally but also for me, personally, given my experience. I feel like it speaks directly to me because I have been in the West now for nearly a decade and it is here that I have grown into myself.
So as I celebrate the first anniversary of purchasing my home this weekend and have been musing on the concept of how the environment in which we live influences us and is also a reflection of us, it seems fitting then, that this quote came to mind.
I mean think of all the layers there are to where we live. Most immediately, it’s the physical; the four walls, floor, ceiling within which we reside. Then there’s the neighborhood, the city, the state, the region, etc. But there are also the people with whom we share space. There are those who are closest to us - our families, our friends, our colleagues - as well as the broader community.
When I moved here a year ago now, I needed to find a place that could provide safety and comfort. I needed a place where I could once again feel in charge of my life. I found all those things here and now I feel a dedication to this place that I didn’t think possible. I love every single inch of it exactly how it is, even the imperfect parts.
It feels like more than just a place to me, it feels like an extension of me.
What’s that all about anyway? What creates that feeling of connection (or not) to one place or another? What is it about the West say, that feels different from the Midwest? Or about the Midwest that feels different from the East?
It has to do with its history, of course. For instance, the East feels different because it’s older; more established. It has to do with its industry, perhaps. Like the work ethic in the Midwest that grew from the dedication needed to farm the land. It has to do with its geography also. It would be hard to deny that the mountains in the West draw a certain spirit.
And it’s all of these pieces that influence the people that live in a place, but then the people that live there, in turn, create its feeling. Its vibe if you will.
But it doesn’t have to be so dramatic.
Narrow it back down to your four walls and think about when your space just feels cluttered and unorganized, and it can make you feel that way as well. Or sometimes it starts with your mind being a mess and you can’t feel settled in your space. You have to organize to help unravel your thoughts, or as your thoughts unravel you have the energy to organize.
Or what if it’s simply a picture that you see every day that doesn’t bring you joy? I mean, Marie Kondo's method is a little too rigid for me, personally, but it’s no joke that the stuff we surround ourselves with can have an effect on us.
Because what makes a place feel like a home is so much more than just rooms and drywall, or streets and buildings. It’s about the world that's naturally around us, but also about the world we create. It’s about the energy we take from a place as well as that which we imbue it with.
Home can make us who we are and a place can become a home because of us.
So as many of you will get a chance to spend an extra day in it this Labor Day weekend, I hope you enjoy it and here’s to home.
*If you’re interested, there is some controversy about the attribution of this quote, but this is how it appears on the ceiling of the U.S. Capitol Building under the mural titled “Gold Prospectors.”