Home: there’s no place like it

“They say home is where your heart is set in stone

It’s where you go when you’re alone

It’s where you go to rest your bones

It’s not just where you lay your head, it’s not just where you make your bed…”

Home by Gabrielle Aplin

Don’t you love travelling? Particularly as many of us have spent much of the last 18 months cooped indoors, the travelling bug has been gnawing away at us as people have just patiently waited for the moment they could jump on a train or plane again. I love the sense of discovery, especially when you go somewhere new. The overwhelming of the senses – smelling and tasting unfamiliar/new foods, witnessing the indescribable beauty of nature or city architecture, watching as residents come and go; it’s really fun.

However, I do always get to a point where that willingness to explore and absorb new things is threatening to expire. For me, at that point I long to be at home – somewhere familiar and snuggly where I can properly rest and eventually slide back into my normal routine. I understand this might be a rare feeling – I see on social media and speak to people all the time who have travelled for months upon months, or even years and never gotten tired of exploration. I even talked with a friend casually after church about having this feeling and she gave me an incredulous look. At the time I thought okay maybe I am weird, but perhaps this feeling is a good thing; it does have some benefits. When travelling back from an amazing holiday it makes the transition from rest -> back to business as usual a lot easier. Of course, it doesn’t mean the grass won’t always be greener; when I’m back home, making my way through my week, I will, every now and then, definitely wish I was back in country x and y, still on holiday and getting more sun and sleep. But 80% of the time I’m happy and grateful that my journey has come full circle and that I’m back and settled.

Home Sweet Home

The Gabrielle Aplin song quoted at the start of this post is one of my faves – it highlights that there is more to the concept of home then we think. The comfort that we associate with home can typically transcends a building or the four walls of one room. Home can be an escape but is also you’re an anchor. For some reason that feeling never properly dawns on me until I’m thrust into a new environment and blindly trying to find my way around – an experience that can be both simultaneously fun but frustrating. A funny example that comes to mind was when I was trying to reunite with my friends whilst in the States, in Manhattan (New York) and instead got completely lost. The reality check of not being in the UK, where I call home and where navigation personally comes a lot easier for starters, was never stronger than in that moment.

I can’t really explain it but often when you travel to a new place there is a lot of energy that has to be spent to gain a feeling of comfort, mainly because everything around you is unfamiliar. Whether voluntarily or by force, you’ve been uprooted from all you know and have to adapt so you can navigate yourself around confidently (even if level of confidence is fairly limited.) After a period of time its therefore nice to be able to just rest and return to somewhere familiar where things are easy, flow naturally for you are and known well.

Being rooted

I think being cooped up in my house this last year or so, as frustrating as it has sometimes been has also helped me become more grateful for having a place of stability in such a time of upheaval and unpredictability. It’s definitely a privilege to have somewhere – or even someone you can label as ‘home’. For those that are still on the journey to finding a home- in whatever form that may be – I pray God provides it for you soon so you can finally feel settled and at peace.

So I just smile…

Smiling is a beautiful thing- and I mean a genuine smile. A crescent moon of happiness on the face. A snapshot of laughter. When the joy inside of you bubbles over it can’t help but show from the outside too. I fully believe no-one can do too much of it. In fact, it doesn’t take much to feel like London is a miserable place for many that needs more smiles. I’ll often be quite tired and focused on my commute to work but when I get a smile from a fellow commuter on the train- although usually taken aback and suspicious in the first few seconds I always return the smile. And as we silently stand radiating mutual positivity in this weird but normal facial language, things change. My mood lifts a little as I go back to whatever I was doing and I realise, wow I really needed that.

women s white and black button up collared shirt
Exhibit A: A smile Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Similarly, when I’m out and about, the people I actually find that smile the most freely and often are children. Especially babies, they have no logic behind their smiles sometimes but they will happen anyway. It’s therefore interesting that as we grow older we become more cautious with our smiles; only directing them towards we know and trust. Our smiles become sacred currency not many can access. We start to rationalise what should be a natural and easy thing, meaning we start to much less of it.

There’s so much in this life that is beautiful and that we should be grateful for; I try to remind myself of that every day (and trust me, it may be obvious but it can still be hard.) Even if you reflect on your current situation and 8/10 things are going wrong, smile because you have the other two things to be grateful for.