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  • December 18, 2018 5 min read

    Your Place... Or Mine? Musings on the Meaning of Home

    A lot of us will be heading “home” for the holidays. To the house we grew up possibly. Maybe a condo, where our single Dad lives, a few towns over from where we were raised, or a distant Aunt’s house, where some of her siblings will congregate for the occasion. Maybe we’ll cross the street to a neighbor’s house, or have friends in from out of town. It could be that we don’t have a place to go, or we’ll spend the holiday among the company of strangers, on the streets alone, or some border town in the desert, maybe behind bars, or restrained in a hospital room with padded walls.

    I’ve taken a turn from my often light, witty, prose, to illustrate an important point: home is bigger than one place. Home is the connection we feel to familiar people and places, in relation to how we understand and interpret this connection within ourselves, and our community at large.  In many ways, “HOME” is the manner in which our own self-understanding manifests in the world, much more than any physical location. When you think about it that way, wherever we find ourselves, home is a lot closer than you think.   

    Find Your Sense of Wander T-shirt by Solid Threads | What does it mean to be home

    Why is this important to consider? Because most of us spend our lives searching for home, whether we realize it or not. Home is the place we feel safe and accepted as we are. We seek it through our work, our romantic relationships, or the house in the exclusive neighborhood at the top of the hill. We look in liquor or pill bottles, to our political leaders, through endless newsfeeds on ever shining screens, or the boxes we open on Christmas day. Where we go to find it, is a journey we all must take, a reckoning we all must come to on our own accord, if we ever want to recognize our greater purpose here on Earth.

    Why do I feel inclined to expound on such an esoteric topic, in the midst of working to fill these boxes underneath our trees? (of course, I AM trying to do so more and more sustainably every year:). Well, because in many ways, this business I’ve struggled so hard to create and evolve over so many years of my adult life, has been my way of searching for my home.

    When I left North Jersey, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I left the only “home” I ever knew and set out on a quest to find more meaning in my life. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel at home necessarily in Hoboken, or the place that I was raised, it was that I didn’t feel at home in myself. I didn’t feel aligned with my calling, nor at ease with my vulnerabilities. Which is partly why I grinded so hard, (often counter productively) to build this business in the first place, and keep pace with everyone around me. As I’ve continued on this journey, I’ve seen and opened to many new people and places, and experienced many different ways of viewing our world in the process. Along the way, I’ve learned a great deal more about my place in the world, as it relates to the place where I was cultivated.  

    Our place in the world is defined by what we stand for, not where we stand.
    Campt Site Retro T-shirt by Solid Threads | What does it mean to be home?

    For me, being born and raised in the not so distant haze of New York City, a third-generation immigrant, in a white affluent area, amidst an emotionally stoic immediate family (to put it mildly), I had become numb not only to the underlying truth in myself, but even more so to the deeper truth of what it means to be a white, privileged, man in today’s society. On a personal level, I did not know who I really was, or how I actually needed to live in order to feel whole, so of course I could not yet fathom how I fit into the greater context of sociological and societal inequalities and “norms” hiding so deeply in plain sight.

    Until we dig deeper into our desires, review our core beliefs, and most importantly, reflect on the reasons we hold them so dear, we will never have a solid foundation on which a true home can be forged.

    Sure, we may find ourselves in a place we call home, surrounded by like-minded people, drinking like-minded drinks, sharing like-minded thoughts, (similar to the two parties in Congress at the moment). But until we learn to integrate the disparate parts of ourselves, the pieces we shun the most, we’ll never know what it means to truly feel at home. Until we’re able to ask the hard questions and actively engage in these conversations and the feelings that arise, within ourselves, and with others who are different, we will never become whole.

    Bernie or Bust T-shirt By Solid Threads | What does it mean to be home?

    I’ve since settled 5 hours north of where I grew up, in Burlington, VT, a beacon of progressive politics, (of course some would say idealism, but more on that later). In fact, Bernie Sanders himself, used to live in the house next door. Yes, my retroactive Vermont claim to fame is that the wily, white haired wonder himself was my neighbor 8 years before I ever moved in. And I do feel at home here! I feel connected to friends, neighbors, the community at large, and the landscape, especially the landscape so close at hand. But most importantly, I feel more aware of and connected to who I am. A white, privileged man, forced to integrate the very real struggle and immense pain I’ve endured thus far in my life, while holding space for those who have had it that much harder, simply because of where they were born, the color of their skin, or the bathroom they were designated to use.

    I guess I am an idealist, if you want to use that label, for believing that we can evolve beyond the limitations of our instilled ideologies, through the strain of our emotional safeguards, into a home we can ALL be proud of, accepted, encouraged, and embraced.

    What does it mean to be home? I think that’s for all of us to figure out, on our own terms. Unraveling our deeply ingrained defenses, making space for the terms of others who appear different from us from afar, but become oh so similar when we move in closer — to empathize with their truth, while owning up to our own, that’s what it means to truly be at home, I believe.

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