Of Home & Heart

Home: A physical space where we feel secure, a place that shelters us from the elements and a safe haven to keep our treasured possessions safe. Home is where we hang our hat and surrender our worries. It’s where we celebrate, lament, rest, cry, love, laugh and gather our strength to take on another day. Are you home yet?
Text by Francesca Cruz | June 8, 2018 | Lifestyle

What does home, your home represent to you? Where do you live? And I mean live? Is it inside of yourself? Do you feel at home wherever you go? Can you make a home anywhere? For many individuals, a house has to look a certain way, be of a certain monetary value. It’s a physical address that represents an identity. It comes with a deep desire for a 2-car garage, white picket fence and a conjuring of images of an anything-but-a-shanty abode — attempts at keeping up with The Joneses, or The Kardashians, and if you’re a Miamian: The Perezes.
For others, although a place of brick and mortar, it has nothing to do with attempts at projecting a lifestyle that may very well be, or not be, their reality. For some, home is a place of solace — of sacred ground. It’s not as much about a collection of pretty things held within it, but the essence of belonging that comes forth from it.
It reminds us of Greek Mythology and Odysseus’ longing for a home after The Trojan War, victory is but semi-sweet without a return to your consecrated hearth. His entanglement with the enchantress Circe, and later the sea nymph Calypso, along with many a perilous adventure could not quench his yearning for the familiar. His home was a physical place that he could not relinquish to a memory or a vision of it. To go to Ithaca meant resurrection.
Some years ago, when I lived in the fast-paced, over-populated, highly-polluted and tough-as-nails place that is Mexico City, I learned that a homestead can also be a state of mind. In a tiny and lonely apartment on the 10th Floor with no elevator to assist me on my daily hikes to and fro, in a land that was scary to a gal that had foreigner written all over her demeanor and a lighter shade of pale skin (and minus a coveted bathtub to soak my worries away at the end of every long day), I learned the power of visualization. My routine consisted of arriving at my sardine-can of an apartment at about 9 p.m. every night, turning on soothing music, dimming the lights, burning some incense and making a cup of hot tea as I closed my eyes and imagined myself back home in easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy Miami, in the most luxurious bubble bath ever, in my much-missed bathtub.
Perhaps that may sound trivial and even banal. A bathtub? Really? But that is how I returned to the familiar, to my sanctuary. The chaos around me could not penetrate the home I carried within me. Every night I got to my apartment, and then I went home — home to Miami. My safe harbor was in my mind’s eye, and I was able to return to it every single night for 2 years because I chose to. That is what allowed me to not just survive that difficult time so far away from home, but to flourish while living in Mexico, for my serenity was not far from my imagination.
That experience granted me the understanding of how difficult it must be for someone to loose their home, their homeland — there’s an eternal nostalgia associated with it. A want, a desire, a need to journey to the beginning, to what is sacred. How many live in ostentatious luxury, with the best creature comforts money can buy and yet have no home? There’s no limit to what they will purchase to embellish their estates or mansions and yet never feel satiated. A sort of tree with no roots, in search of light, love and shelter — but that’s something that must first come from within before it can spill forth into the world.
I recently returned to Mexico, this time for a visit to Merida in The Yucatan Peninsula. On a drive 45 minutes into the middle of swampland and the cross-street of nowhere, I met and interviewed a Mayan shaman who calls a small palapa [thatched hut] home. With no TV or running water, a simple hammock for a bed, a collection of worn books and a tiny clay oven, he was wealthy in happiness and serenity. Each word of advice he shared with me about life came back to the same concept. We carry all we need within us and if we’re content in our soul, we’ll be merry wherever we go in life. He wanted for nothing. He’d found his home.
Think about the importance you place on material possessions. What is the value they represent for you? If everything was taken away, could you still make a home for yourself? A home is not bought; it’s made. Where you stop to rest your weary head, to share a laugh or hug with someone, to nourish your body and your mind, to contemplate life…that’s where your heart dwells. To find fulfillment, you must first acknowledge that all you need, you carry already within you. Your home is inside your heart, and you arrive there when you decided to come home.