By the time I left for college, my family had moved nine times. I used to have a recurring nightmare of running down a street holding a cardboard box that was falling apart with each stride.

Between college and the couch I’m currently sitting on, I’ve moved thirteen times, been briefly homeless and survived an apartment fire. A battle of losses, gains and oppressive forces beyond my control; all in the merciless pursuit of stability. I was determined to outrun chaos and ensure it couldn’t find me.

Success doesn’t bump into you like some accidental stranger in the park. You have to mindfully define and intentionally pursue it. Success for me meant earning an income absent of self-abuse or extortion, having a reliable car, healthcare, a couch, bed, clothes and being able to go food shopping without a calculator. Hallelujah. At 43, I have arrived.

In all sincerity, people ask me lately how are you, really? Really good. All things considered, I have no right to be this safe, sane and gratefully content, but…I AM.

I was out on a walk along the river trail last weekend and this image stopped me in my tracks; limb, nest, silhouette of my state tree and a promise, signified by a rare solar flare. As if God were both reminding and celebrating with me, that I’d crossed the invisible threshold between the Ordeal back to an Ordinary World I’d never really known.

Gotta say, I really like it. The predictability, stability, silence; apart from some YouTube jazz and the occasional squirrel running across the roof. There are no longer monumental tasks on my to-do list, just the normal, mundane stuff like going to work, emptying the dishwasher and making the bed.

Is there a fine line between survival and success? Or, is it more like a tightrope whose risk and reward are determined by our definition of achievement? What’s your end goal? Why?

This morning’s devotion is a reminder that within a good life, there’s no beginning or end.

“The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to.” -Lao Tzu

I flow with the nourishing life of God.

Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.—John 7:38

If that’s true, it was all God, all good, all along.


7 thoughts on “Home

  1. (Warning: long post)

    I’ve moved a lot too! And was homeless. So much that when my marriage ended, I stayed in this apartment. Sometimes I think I would have healed better by relocating.

    I like your questions:
    “Is there a fine line between survival and success?” I’m starting to think so. I have the same potential as I ever had. I’m in about the same amount of trouble. When I remember the faith aspect, I settle right back in. I’m discovering that home is a feeling.

    I started up doing contract work for a friend I used to assist with his home remodeling business a few years ago. Between then and now, he decided to check in with his sweetheart from his twenties, just to see how she was. They weren’t ready then, but when he reconnected, they found the trueness of their love. She’s in Germany, is fluent in nine languages and conversational in a handful of others. He told me she used to intimidate him, she was smart-smart. Older and wiser, he put away those old glasses and is texting her when he and I are working. She calls now and then. Once a year, they spend three months together, traveling the world and building daydreams. He discovered investing. His business is thriving.

    He told me that he feels his life is like a dream. Things are unfolding as miracles. (He actually follows A Course In Miracles principals). And had it been even a year ago, I wouldn’t have known what he was talking about. But I told him that I am on the threshold, which was interesting.

    I don’t have tons, well, much money. I don’t have a darling. I’m not traveling, I’m not really writing right now. (Writing is what I used to call my last, best hope for the future.) But it was more that I was feeling Home. Feeling at Home is 100% success. It’s feeling secure, taken care of, at peace while in motion. You’re right, it takes work. I’ve taken years just to find the road. Each step I take brings reassurance.

    “Or, is it more like a tightrope whose risk and reward are determined by our definition of achievement?” This is what I used to think. Depending on what you want in life, this has been a well used model for as far back as people. It might better relate to ancestral or creature living. For people, it might be less advanced, and doesn’t do justice for our potential.

    “What’s your end goal? Why?” I don’t know if I have an end goal, just mile markers. I’d still like to make enough to fund my musical pursuits, ease up on monthly budget stuff, travel a little, maybe move somewhere else for awhile. (Since I was born, I moved 26 times, half of that before I left home.) I wouldn’t mind taking up pencil sketching again. I’d like to see some of the great or obscure art in the world, taste foods from other places, listen to voices, experience cultures. But if I can continue feeling comfortable with myself and others, that’s all I really need. Part of the reason I haven’t shone as much in past months is because I’ve been keeping it to myself, which is important. I used to be much more showy.

    Some Zen schools believe that only when we become our best can we be effective in the world. I used to promote this. But I never fully experienced it. Let’s just say I had a hunch. But it was a decent hunch! I’m older than you. But I don’t feel I’ve lost time, or potential of living a good life. We all have the opportunity to discover Home. No matter if you’re in your twenties or nineties, the discovery will qualify all the years that have come before, no matter how horrible or tortured a person was. Baptism is an ongoing process, right? It’s not a one and done. We get messy. Someday, I hope we can evolve and wash in the light. Until then, we do our best with what huge abundance we are given.

    (Sorry for the long post)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This was very well written, once again. And made me do a comparison count of moves. Before university: Five different schools on two different continents, five different places we lived. During university: Two different places after leaving home in the first year of being an undergraduate. During my early career (22-29): Ten different places, having to move around to follow work and also because of a repeating breakup which meant I had to leave places I lived three times. During my working holidays travelling around Australia (29-33): Twelve different places/house shares. So make that 24 different places of residence between ages 16 (left home) and 33.

    Then I moved back to my favourite region and miraculously scored the same rental I’d left before my travelling-on-purpose years. I stayed there for eight years, including when we started building our own place, where I’ve now lived nine years. And I never want to move again…

    I’d not have done the count if I’d not read this piece. Makes you think, doesn’t it? I often said, in my mid-30s looking back, that the mistake I made was to try to set up home. Should have bought a campervan – much more stability, in retrospect, not to mention more economical.

    Apart from the times I deliberately moved when exploring Australia, to see and live in different places, I put the constant up-and-moving down to two things:

    1) A dysfunctional family of origin who first of all dragged me all over the place, and then necessitated my early departure from home, which of course resulted in more instability, financial insecurity etc than a person from a healthy family experiences; and

    2) A dysfunctional society, specifically what neoliberalism has done to ordinary people who don’t have tons of money, by making their employment increasingly precarious regardless of qualifications (unless you’re in management or politics – the people who keep you precarious, themselves get long tenures and golden handshakes)

    You’ve also had both these factors – many people do, sadly. Some escape the first, only the super-wealthy are relatively immune from the effects of the second. Makes you think, alright.

    Love the coffee shop bookstore – and think places like that are extra helpful given the rootlessness of many people’s existence for large stretches of life these days.

    Great post, thank you. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • 24 residences in 33 years. Good god, huh? Imagine the effects if you were to uproot and replant one of the trees from your current sanctuary that many times? Would or could it bear fruit? And yet, despite the secure and nourishing attachment seemingly all living organisms need in order to thrive, you managed to do just that. Beautiful and, I wish it had been easier.

      I agree with the factors you mentioned; which seem to be part of continuous theme throughout human history. Ever since the original fall we’ve all found ourselves battling the same consequences. I find a strange comfort in that awareness.

      So glad for where you are today in spite of everything. Much love Sue.


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