When the opportunity presented itself to join the expedition to Aylmer Lake in the Northwest Territory in Northern Canada, I was giddy with anticipation because I knew this was going to be a “homecoming” for me. It had been quite some time since I had spent any significant time out in the natural world, which I discovered in my mid-thirties was my true home. I could feel it in my body. It was a feeling of “belonging” – something came alive inside of me and I was fed on a soul level. It’s hard to articulate in words. Because for me, it’s all about how coming home makes me feel.
Sure enough, my time out in the vast, unoccupied landscape of the arctic tundra reminded me that home for me is out in the wilderness – any wilderness.
I distinctly remember moments throughout the trip when a smile would come over my face – it happened when I looked out the window of the float plane, when we took our first excursion out in the boat to the east end of the lake, and again when we landed on shore for our first night out – there was nothing as far as the eyes could see but the undisturbed beauty of the natural world. I could feel everything in my being let go and a contractedness that I normally carry with me begin to loosen. After about two days removed from the rigors of daily life I noticed how all of the anxiety and angst that I usually carry was gone. All of the responsibilities and “shoulds” that seem to weigh on me day in and day out had dropped away and were replaced by a vastness that just opened me up. The external vastness that was so evident in the landscape was being mirrored on the inside. This was my experience for the entire week – I was truly in my element.
Since returning I’ve been sitting with so many questions around this idea of “home.” Where do other people find home? What are the characteristics of “coming home?” Are they the same for everyone? How does “home” make other people feel? How do we know when we’ve “come home?”
I think everyone has a place that is “home.” Some people may not have found it, yet, but it’s somewhere out there. For some it might be at the piano, in the kitchen creating a beautiful meal, teaching, at the canvas with a palette of beautiful colors, working with your hands, being with children, or sitting, with pen in hand, writing. I believe when you find it you will know it. For me, it feeds a longing that resides deep inside of me. It transcends the constraints of time and space. It brings all of me alive in a way that nothing else can. There is no place I’d rather be.
The world needs us to find our “home” because it’s where we find ourselves, the core of who we are, and it’s from this place that we have the most to offer the world. So if you don’t know where “home” is for you, search for it as if your life depends on it. Because on some level it does. And once you find it, visit as often and for as long as you can because the world will be a better place if you do.