Home and belonging
A personal reflection in times of uncertainty
What is home?
I have moved house 13 times in the last 20 years, with the last five years being largely nomadic. And lately I’ve been looking a bit deeper into what home means to me.
The past few years, I’ve made my physical home on the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. I am grateful to live in a place where there’s an abundance of nature, healthy food, dance events, song circles, incredible artists and teachers, and many opportunities for growth and healing. I love that saying “I need a hug” to an acquaintance in a cafe here is considered normal. I feel blessed to have dear friends who are deeply committed to their own personal evolution, as well as mine.
I have my local coffee shop and my favorite waterfall here. I enjoy Thai massages and nature hikes and beach sunsets on a regular basis. I live a really really good life here. I am privileged. And, my sense of stability in this has been pretty shaken up lately. The visa situation in Thailand is… well… uncertain. The government gave a grace period for visa amnesty until September 26. What’s going to happen after that, nobody knows.
This uncertainty points out to me that the home I’ve built here in Koh Phangan is a house of cards. There are very few people I know here who have land, businesses, family or other commitments that would keep them here if we get a stronger shaking. We have a community of sorts here, but it’s a transient one. Without deep roots to anchor us, the question can quickly and easily shift from “how to stay?” to “where to go?”
While my connections are deep, I realize I have no commitments to anything in my life now… not to a person, not to a place, not even to a project. And this feels ungrounding. My friends speak different languages, carry different passports, and have different visas. There’s no one who’s in the same boat as me, and no one who has tied their boat to mine. The idea of having to start over on my own in a new place feels daunting.
All of us are alone (all One) in the beginning, in the same way that all of us are alone (all One) in the end. And yet, while I am on the human journey, in the space between birth and death, I long for a sense of home beyond my own body. The kind of home that’s not a physical place. Some might call this family. I am calling it belonging. It’s the belonging that arises from the simple presence and acceptance of another.
A home is not something that you fall into or float through; it’s not some kind of magical accident. A home is not a random place where you hang out just to pass the time. A home is something you choose. A home is something you build. A home is lovingly created with intention. And home is not merely a house or a village or a country — what makes a home is a felt sense of belonging. And to me, belonging means feeling accepted as you are and feeling a part of something.
Right now, my bubble of belonging contains the family unit of me and my cat. With her presence and acceptance, communicating without words, she mirrors me so clearly. It’s a small and simple and beautiful family. At the same time, I long for the love of a human life partner. I want a special someone to see me as I am, to be with me as I am. Someone to feel home with, to build belonging with, to practice acceptance with.
It’s rare that I let myself express longing for a life partner. I did so recently in a small circle of friends, and I noticed a lot of my own self-criticism, doubts, and judgment for having this desire being reflected back to me through others’ voices. I wondered, is it bad to want to create and build something? Is it not okay to desire a companion? Is it un-spiritual to crave intimacy, connection, or even the grounding of commitment? After nine years of mostly being single, am I still not ready for this? Have I not done enough work on myself, on my own, to be worthy of this?
Eventually I came to this: Yes, it is absolutely okay to want a partner, to want to be part of a team. And yes I am absolutely ready and I am absolutely worthy. Everything I want to receive is also something that I have developed the ability to give to myself. And everything I want to receive is also something I am willing (and wanting) to give to my partner.
For belonging to take root in the always-home within myself, it starts with the seed of complete acceptance of myself, including the acceptance of my ordinary human needs and desires. I plant and nourish belonging in my own body-home in this way. I know that once this belonging is in-bodied, it can gradually grow and expand outward from there.
What is home? To me, home is belonging. And the first step in building belonging from within is allowing myself to Be, Longing.