“So where’s home?” Continued from yesterday’s conversation about “What recharges you?”
We recently had a visit from an English woman who had grown up in Kenya. The part of the conversation that resonated with me the most was when she asked:
“You have been here six years. Do you feel like this is your home yet? My boys (she had sons who had grown up in Kenya) have been here quite a long while but still consider Kenya home.”
Interesting, I thought. Home! Home! Home! Let’s talk about that place, where whether you go East or West is best.
What Do I Mean By Home?
Now for the sake of clarity let me be clear on what I mean by the word home. By home, I am not referring to the physical structure that protects you from wind, hail and stalkers. Rather I am referring to that place that makes you feel one of or a combination of the following:
c) Well protected
e) Free to be yourself.
After all, aren’t the above what most of us feel when we remember home. After a long, hard, scary day at work, we trudge home through the wind and rain so that we can get to that warm place where we can take off our shoes, unwind and just be. This place may not even be your residential address. It may be your local church or bible study group. It may be your local bar or hangout. It may even be your spouses home. Wherever that place is, where your troubles melt away and you feel most at peace, least on edge: THAT’S HOME!
Home Away From Home
So maybe, you flew out ‘because everyone else is doing it’. Maybe you flew out because you could no longer stay home. Maybe you flew out pursuing a job. Maybe your parents surprised you with some money, some air tickets and a letter from a University that has a weird sounding name. However, you left Mama Africa and you are now abroad ( by the way, if you are, welcome, from a diaspora veteran). You have now been ripped away from that place you call home and are now all alone in this foreign land with foreign places, foreign languages and foreign ideas about where home is. How exactly can you get back home in the middle of this land far far away. Simple: Recreate your home.
What Makes Your Home a Home
I have two types of home. My first home is my house. Here I feel safe in the solitude that is provided to me by quiet nights. It is in this home that I do all my heavy mental work. It is here that I write this blog, study, learn and plan how I will become a better human being every single night.
My second home is anything that has to do with making people feel something. You need someone to speak in public, I’m there as long as I can make the audience feel something. You need someone to have a breezy conversation with, am there as long as you laugh.
My first home is home because I feel safe and protected within it and undisturbed and free to explore under the cover of night. My second home is home because I feed off energy from people. Believe it or not, when someone likes me, the high I get from that can keep me going for days on end. I feel safe in the fact that I can actually connect with my fellow human being because the way I see it, if you can connect with people, regardless of where you are and how poor you are, you will be better than you would be otherwise.
This Knowledge is Critical
Basically the reason I told that story is so that you have a frame of reference when I ask you, what make your home feel like home? What type of environment do you need in order for you to feel safe, protected and/or loved? Do you need a place where you feel connected to another person? Do you need a place where you can have deep, intimate conversation? Do you need a place where you can just think? Do you need a place where you can let your aggression lose? Do you need some quiet time? Do you need a place where you feel in control?
When you know what type of place feels like home, you are now equipped to begin seeking it out. The diaspora may be lacking in a lot of things, but not in places to go and things to do. Armed with the knowledge of what your home should be like, you can begin to go exploring different places all searching for that home.
As I have said in previous posts, once you find your home, once you find that place where you can just be, there is nothing quite like it.
What’s Your Perception of the Diaspora
A second element to this discussion is how do you perceive your country of immigration as a whole. In general, there are three ways you can look at your new country.
2) Transition point between two homes
3) A Place that Just Isn’t Home
Though I have been here close to six years, this place feels like a transition point between two homes. It feels as though I was put here to learn and grow so that I could go back to my place of birth, aka sweet Mama Africa. If you feel like I do, then it brings greater purpose into everyday existence abroad. After all, you must get ready, prepare and learn so that you can seek out and/or build and then maintain your home once you have left the transition point you are currently in. So, look at yourself like one of those samurais in a Jet Li movie that has been banished from home and needs to train for years before returning home to as the greatest samurai ever who will save the kingdom from attack (I know Jet Li is Chinese and the Samurai tradition is Japanese but you get my point………)
If you feel like the diaspora is home, then share with your fellow immigrants how you managed to fit into a place that at times can feel like a vast wasteland. There are a lot of people who need help figuring out just what to make of this place. Hell, even I would love to hear it. You are already way ahead of the curve. Please drag the rest of us along.
Finally, if this place doesn’t feel like home at all, then read the preceding sections of this post and go about creating semi-homes here in the diaspora. As soon as possible work on finding or creating that place of quiet strength, comfort and stability. Maybe start hanging around solid, stable family people who shy away from drama. Maybe find a job in your local place of worship. Maybe find work with the elderly or the youth, where there is little threat to you. Whatever you need, seek it out and once you have found it embrace it.
We All Need Homes
Now go home,