Archive for the ‘home’ tag
I passed by this place a few times while walking in the Jomtien district of Pattaya, Thailand. At first I thought it might be another one of those little side motorcycle kitchens that are set up within a few minutes where someone would sell various kinds of quick meals, a common site in the area. But, on closer inspection, it was obvious that it served as a rest space with the red object serving as a bed or as a table. I had seen quite a few different “quick homes” in the area, in small tents, in large drain pipes and on the fringes of jungle areas such as this.
As my readers are aware, I am returning to my home, to Canada. For the past six years I have been the occasional visitor, even in my own house in Canada as there were plane flights to catch in Latin America and Asia every year since retiring. It is time to sit still for a while and take care of business so to speak. The running has to stop and it is time to face those things from which I have been running even though I had no conscious idea that I was running from them. What will follow when “balance” has been restored between the conscious and the unconscious? I honestly can say that I don’t know. I will leave all the doors open, all the possibilities open so as to hear better what emerges in the process.
It’s been a long day and I wondered if I would even get the energy to write this evening. It has been a full day of classes at the university with three courses over the morning and afternoon, usually enough to leave me tired. Yet, the day was not done as I caught a bus into the centre of the city to visit a dentist where I spent yet another hour and a bit in his chair. It was nudging darkness by the time I arrived back at my apartment, back home.
It is strange how I have come to define home for myself. Home really isn’t a constant physical place, has never really been a constant physical place as far as my head was concerned. Growing up in a gypsy-like fashion constantly changing addresses about two or three times a year for the first dozen years and then at a bit slower pace for the next six years, home seemed to be a place where my parents found a place for us to sleep even if it was a motel for two or three weeks. Things settled down as I sat still for almost twenty years in a small Canadian prairie town while my own children took turns going to school – same school for all three until the last graduated. And then, I again began to wander. In looking back at the flow of addresses that I have called home, this apartment in China is a place that has now moved into third spot for duration now that I am in my fourth year of teaching at the same university. However I look at it, home was never a box, but for me, a state of mind.
Now that I have basically come to terms with who I am, I am less restless in terms of searching out for a physical place in which I will find a home. I know now that it doesn’t take much for a physical place to now become a home for me. But, I wonder in the end where will I sit still for my last years? What do I need from a physical place that will add to experienced of being settled? Of course I don’t have answers at this time. It is enough that I am at home with myself.
And for those who might wonder; no, this is not my home in China. :)
Heading north from DaNang, Vietnam which is seen here from a scenic rest stop partway up the mountain road that leads to what used to be called North Vietnam, I stopped to take a few photos to mark the occasion, tourist photos for the most part. The light conditions weren’t the greatest for good photos but that rarely stops me from capturing scenes such as this one. For me, this lack of clarity is an important statement with regards to taking a journey, especially into what one consciously considers to be the unknown, new territory. I was travelling through Vietnam, new territory and as a result had suspended judgement about what to expect, an attitude that lets me see things that would otherwise be missed.
I think that this travelling and living in a place where one is an outsider is actually helpful for me. I can’t make too many assumptions about the others I see around me or myself in relation to these others. There is enough foreignness on both sides that clearly differentiates self from other.
When back in my home territory the differentiation is not so evident. I do sense my differences as do those around me. But habit and expectations and a lack of confidence catches me and I slip back into the older patterns of behaving and relating as though in a straight jacket. The collective has a power over me that is hard to dispel because of familiarity, fear and inertia. In a new collective, culture, community there are no patterns, no real expectations that the self has for others or that others have of oneself. No wonder I find a release in being elsewhere.
Returning to the community, it is almost a step back in time and in feeling. After having left, the return is warm but at the same time, it is guarded. By leaving, one has in a small way rejected the community. In spite of the warmth of the “welcome back” an unconscious distance and separation is erected. The community needs assuring, needs proof that the returnee still belongs, is still one of them. And so, in an effort to appease, it is necessary to deny the changes and work hard to prove that one is still part of the community. As I learned, the last thing anyone wants to hear is a new idea that might contradict the locally approved view of the world.
On the way to the main university campus (I teach on a second campus) I came across this little guy sitting on a branch. I had quite a chase before finally getting a decent photo. He seemed to “know” when the camera was pointed at him, even though I was using a telephoto lens which meant I didn’t get very close at all. He definitely was skittish about having his photo taken. Shortly after taking his photo, I went to the FAO leader’s office where I signed a contract for another year of teaching at the university. This will be the fourth such contract. Interesting as this was not what my intentions were when I began the side journey into teaching in China. I had originally thought of a one-year contract with the option of moving on to other countries. Now, it is four years in one school in one city in one country.
Having a base in China, I definitely been more comfortable with my travels to other places in China as well as other countries in Asia. The stability of place allows me a sense of a safety net. I feel free to wander knowing that I have a place not-too-distant in which to return for revitalization. What is most surprising is the fact that I found this place of safety far from my foundational home in Canada. It is as though I went on a journey of discovery and found a distant port to act as a halfway house for my self.
This is a good analogy of what I experienced as I dared to journey within, leaving the known world for the shadowy world within. Though I didn’t really want to take the journey, preferring instead to remain in the stuck patterns of familiarity, my sanity forced me to take the risk. In the process of discovering new places within, I was able to build rest stops from which I could make smaller round trips into the unknown. Now, the inner world is not so terrifying. I know that I have carved a path back to ego that lets me know that I am remaining somewhat sane as I change.
My wings take me just as swiftly to a safe place, not much different than this little fellow.
A break from the architectural and people photos taken during the tour of IndoChina that I have been posting here as of late. I did take nature photos during the trip as nature is a vital part of my personal journey. This particular butterfly was found in Siem Reap, Cambodia on an unscheduled walk that had no objective other than just being there.
After having just spent the day before visiting Angkor Wat and the morning on the water in the floating village, it was time for unplanned discoveries without a driver or guide. Since I have a good ability in building mental maps that avoid me getting lost in strange cities, I had no fear in wandering in search of whatever the day and place would present to me as a gift. It might seem like aimless activity, but I have learned that though I might not be consciously aware of these kind of journeys or excursions into the unknown, there is purpose and direction. It might be a foreign country and a strange city, but in the big picture, there is no foreignness as all are connected unconsciously, all are part of the whole.
When I found this butterfly, I was thankful that he stayed put long enough for me to get a few good photos of him. Then just moments later, I was surprised by thousands of fruit bats hanging from trees in the central park of Siem Reap. Within moments of each other, I was presented with a flying creature of the day as well as flying creatures of the night. It immediately made me think of my self making journeys consciously and unconsciously.
I often fly in my dreams with a body that defies logic, gravity and physics. I fly through mountains and water as well as in the sky. Everywhere I journey in these dreams is home. The land, the water, the sky . . .
Here is another look at how the town I live in appears on the horizon in the month of December. As you can see, it is a very small town on the prairie, a town of just more than 500 people. The town is home in as many ways as one would want to define home. It is here that my children come with their children in order to have family gatherings. Though I have only been here for just over seven years, the place is seen by the grandchildren as the ancestral home. For them it is enough that we live there and that they get to come to our home and be special in the way grandchildren are special to their grandparents, an unconditional acceptance.
The town surrounds and protects us in its fashion. Though we travel and leave the house for extended periods of time, those that stay in the town look out for our interests as they know that their interests as community citizens is indeed tied into our interests as community citizens. It probably helps that for a few years I was a community leader as the leader of their school, years in which they saw education happening for their children and grandchildren. The town provides us with friendships in which we are able to visit each other’s tables and tell stories or listen to the stories told by others. It is also a place where we offer small, but important help as it is needed as best we can; and, in return, we receive as much if not more than we give. But it does start with giving and listening and acknowledging.
The same holds true when one journeys inward. There exists a community of sorts within and it is vital that one listens and gives what is due. The payoff comes in being supported by the inner aspects of self in an outer world when there is need.
It’s our annual Canada Day weekend get together even though it isn’t Canada Day. Two daughters with their families, and son with wife make up our gathering. It’s a time of celebrating family history while making more memories.
This photo taken in the school playground at the southern edge of town, with the Mondau Hills in the background, features the youngest of my five grandchildren which are all boys. There is a sixth grandchild on the way, another boy. I am sure that in the future there will be stories to tell about these youngsters when they get together as adults to relive childhood memories while visiting the grandparents. Of course, this reliving of memories only serves to create new memories as the past is reworked from the mindset of the present.
Part of the reason for gathering, rather an excuse added on to as though a reason was needed, is to celebrate my upcoming birthday. I will be turning sixty and for them, that is a milestone that needs recognition. The same thing was done when I turned fifty and when I retired from school administration. We gathered together to mark these milestones. We also gather together for Christmas but not necessarily all at once as that depends on work needs for these young families. We will likely continue this pattern of gathering to build our family myths, a typical modern, western world family.
Another visit to the archives for this photo from January, 2008. I am currently writing about the return to community, the return home with the treasure, in my SoFoBoMo book, one of the last stages of the hero’s journey. Many of the stories told by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, are taken for Indian mythology. The return “home” in a psychological sense as well as a physical sense is a powerful theme … unless this is your home. Home is obviously not about a physical structure, it is about the container of family. And even in this photo, the container is there and it is strong, powerful in its influence upon the psyche of each person within the family, especially upon the children.
It pays to think about what kind of “home” we provide for our own children. It also pays to think about what kind of container we have provided for children who have long left the home to make homes for themselves. There is still much to tell, woundings to explain, confessions to be made and forgiveness to be sought and given – especially from one’s self. We are least likely to forgive ourselves for wounding our children, for wounding our mates, for continuing to wound our own souls. Somehow, we need to do this in order to find peace.