Home is Where the Heart is
September 22, 2021
Today I was on a phone call with my doctor’s office in which the receptionist needed to collect some personal information. When she asked about my housing situation, she queried, “do you live in an apartment or a home?” I answered that I live in a house, but my attention was directed to the words she used: apartment or home. I’m sure this woman did not mean to imply that an apartment is not a home, but this is what I happened to pick up on and it got my mental wheels moving.
Being in a profession that sells houses and occasionally apartment buildings for a living, I think a lot about what it takes to create a home from a living space. Is wherever we decide to put our stuff and sleep our home? Or does a home imply something deeper than just the space we occupy with our creature comforts? There is the old saying, “home is where the heart is,” so what exactly does that mean? Is this why progressives now refer to the homeless as unhoused or people without homes?
As I ponder these questions, the receptionist’s innocent question of whether I lived in an apartment or a home suddenly seems flippant and crass. Although I know she in no way meant harm, her choice of words amplifies the need for us humans to be more conscious with what we say. As always, self included. These musings are never about casting judgement on others or demonizing anyone. Rather, they are a contemplation on the reflection of myself I find in everyone I encounter. When I come across something especially unsavory, I try to take a moment to look deeper within myself and uncover the reason behind the trigger. I have my own saying: “your triggers are your problem.” So when I feel that twinge of internal discomfort--a trigger--I want to know what within me feels the need to react negatively. Most always, it boils down to ego, but in this case, it seems more like a collective sense of ego because I have a proper house, a home. So whose ego was offended?
If you look online, there are all types of articles about how to turn a house into a home, with suggestions like: place rugs, use natural elements, create flowing space, etc. But if home is where the heart is, wouldn’t it take more than online directives, Joanna Gaines’s latest article, or a new Target tschotske to transform your living space into your home? Assuming the word home suggests a place that reflects you, your heart, and your divine spaciousness, a home could really be made wherever you are, which helps me understand why the homeless are now being more commonly referred to as “unhoused”.
When I look up why the word homeless is being replaced with unhoused, I read that it is because ‘homeless’ is derogatory and I can see from that perspective. Homeless sounds a bit hopeless, doesn’t it? Like how can the prodigal son ever make it back if he has no home to return to? On the contrary, ‘unhoused’ sounds like a temporary situation and one that can be remedied. The strayed among us may not have a house to go back to, but the hope remains that they can still find their way home.
I think all living spaces, whether they be mansions, cottages, apartments, lofts, converted garages, or even vans, boats, trailers, or tents, have the potential to become our own personal sacred space that we call home. Many of the things we equate with a feeling of home are just that--things. It’s not actually the rugs or the art that makes your living space feel like a home, it’s the essence of love that these things represent. When we love something, we instinctively want to breathe life into it’s being. And when we do this, we create an atmosphere of warmth and comfort, which is the essence of that feeling we call “home”. I believe the reason why we say “home is where the heart is” is because our hearts carry our expression of love, kindness, compassion, and gentle nature that helps others, and ourselves, feel at home, no matter where we are. If we can keep an open heart to the divinity and transcendent nature that all living things are made of, we will find that home has been something internally within us all along, rather than something external. We don’t need to look “out there” for the feeling of peaceful belonging that is actually our birthright. As Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy finds out that all she has to do is tap her shoes three times to return home: “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”
I’d love to hear your comments on how you feel about the word ‘home’ and what it means to you. Do you feel home is where the heart is?