“From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,Listening to others, considering well what they say,Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.I inhale great draughts of space,The east and the west are mine,and the north and the south are mine.I am larger, better than I thought,I did not know I held so much goodness.”
Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road (excerpt)
He was not only in touch with what ached deep inside, but he also knew how to express it to those few melting hearts that understood. That, right there, is precisely what I loved about this man.
He bowed his head in what he assumed was defeat and turned to meet my eyes with an ever deepening sadness, “I just … I just want to go home. Wherever home is.”
And then he walked out the door.
I ached for him, because I knew exactly what he meant. He was homesick. He was a weary traveler on this road called life and his heart had been cracked wide open. But his plea for a place called home went so much deeper than that; deeper than either of us knew how to express. My heart broke for him because I knew deep down, he thought time was running out, it was the end of the road and that there was little hope left in finding it.
If I could have gone back and had a chance to collect my thoughts before he walked away, I would have chased him out the door and cried in the rain after him, “This isn’t the end, this is only the beginning. If you stick around long enough to see, home is … yourself.”
After countless years of searching, fighting, longing for and discovering this elusive home, how does one sum up the astounding beauty found within the experience of coming home to yourself, that inevitably and continuously evolves until the end of time? How does one tell someone that they are on the brink of more pain that comes with the unraveling of their true nature? How does one express the glory that is finally seen on the other side of these growing pains?
And, most importantly, how does one convince another terribly weary soul, that finding home is worth the fight?
Maybe we cannot properly express it because every individual must discover this for themselves. Therein lies the beauty and mystery of it all. Besides, they’d never believe us anyway. The answer is unbelievably and frustratingly simple. Although beautiful and inspiring, the quotes, sage advice, lyrics and books detailing this elusive home don’t even really saturate your mind until you can look back through your very own experiences, in hindsight.
I’ve been homesick for decades, but up until about seven years ago, I never defined this search as a quest for home. And most of my life, I looked for home in the arms of people, places and things … until, in my relentless quest, I met myself face to face. Trust me, when this happens .. it will floor you.
Seven years ago, my best friend and I opened up to one another about this need to move. Like the man mentioned earlier, we had an overwhelming feeling that time was running out, we were becoming stagnant and we were homesick for that which we did not know.
A few days after our conversation, I was at work when my boss sent me a personalized Note from the Universe from tut.com. This letter detailed this elusive search and discovery of a place called home. I was blown away. Not only by the words that cut right through the deepest parts of my soul, but also by the timely nature of it all. It was one of those moments of synchronicity that you cannot deny.
It was so beautiful, I excitedly passed it on to my best friend, recalling our conversation and detailing my personal concept of home, which at the time included my idea of a husband. At that juncture, I was naively homesick for what I thought was a person who would complete me.
As if that weren’t enough, I had an encounter with the inexplicable mysteries of life only moments after I sent my essay to my friend. I went outside to take a break. Outside, I met the office janitor and her elderly and blind mother. They had trash bags which I immediately took upon myself to throw out. Thankful, they walked passed me arm in arm and smiling. Although blind, the elderly mother looked straight at me and says, “Tell your husband what it’s like to be home.” My jaw dropped to floor as tears welled up in my eyes.
That very moment was the beginning of a quest I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Countless adventures later in this quest to find someone, somewhere and something to fulfill the only thing left at the end of each road, was – me. I traveled far and wide to come home to myself, every single time.
Living with Bipolar One and seeing this all through an unorthodox lens, it’s well known amongst those closest to me that I will have an insatiable urge to escape and travel at the onset of manic spells. Something about a lubricated mind destroys inhibition and I set sail, care-free. Although these spells are under control now, I cannot discount the profound impact they had in the past seven years.
On my last road trip out West through the wilds of Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana, I met myself face to face and after years of searching, the dots connected and it finally sunk in – I was home.
The first dot was my late Uncle’s cabin on a lake in Minnesota. As kids, we were there every summer but I hadn’t stepped foot into it in over 20 years. The minute I walked in, I felt I was home. Nothing changed. The decor, the view, the smell, the layout was perfectly preserved as if if had just been there yesterday with my entire family. What made it even more special was that my late Uncle owned two gift stores named, The Yellow Brick Road. Countless trinkets blanketed the house from the Wizard of Oz. None more special than a plaque that read, “There’s No Place Like Home.”
After a month in Minnesota, I moved onward to the next dot. South Dakota, where I became stranded in a Lakota Sioux reservation. I had run out of money and found myself driving aimlessly around the rolling hills in the middle of the night. It was 30° that night but it didn’t stop me from dancing and howling at the full moon.
The next morning a Lakota Sioux Native met me in the parking lot of a gas station where I was waiting to fill up. He told me that he had heard of me and followed me most of the night just to make sure I was safe. We chatted about my next adventures during the sunrise over the plains and it became clear to him that I was in search for something more than just a road trip. As he warned me that Yellowstone, my next destination, was closed due to weather, he added in a beautiful sentiment about finding home.
“If you realize all roads connect, know that the journey is the key, understand that ‘home’ is where you are, and never set a destination … you can never be lost, frustrated or lonely.”
It was a moment amongst the sunrise over the rolling fields of gold that was fit for the big screen. A moment seared into my mind, never to be forgotten.
Despite his warnings, I set off to Yellowstone in Wyoming. Spring had just begun, so for the most part, I had all roads to myself. And trust me when I say this …. driving alone on those windy, steep and treacherous roads while trying to take in the vast glory of Mother Nature herself, is a very scary undertaking and not for the faint of heart. It literally took my breath away.
Yellowstone was closed off due to snow and it had been for months. I stayed a week and drove empty roads on the outskirts day and night. As I drove, I recounted how far I had come in my personal journeys.
I stopped one day to the top of a scenic byway overlooking endless mountain ranges. The endless nature in this expanse that unfolded before me was just like life, enlightenment and the unfolding of self. It is a journey that goes on and on, until the end of time. The moment you think you have arrived, is the moment you see it never ends. Like the Lakota Sioux Native said, it’s about the journey and the trick is to realize there is no destination.
With my weary face toward the bitter wind and tears welling up inside, I yelled out to the endless ranges before me.
“Where is he?! Where is it?! Where are you?! Where is my home?!”
Everything was silent until the mountains seemed to move and tremble, the winds picked up and the air became thin as I struggled to catch my breath, when out from the depths of Mother Nature herself roared her reply.
Face to face.
After thousands of miles and dead ends, I met myself, alone in the midst of nature; a reflection of my inner being that stopped me in my tracks on top of the range, looking into the magnificent distance of self discovery still left to unravel. I knew in that moment that it wasn’t going to be found in a person, place or thing. In the vastness, I found this elusive home within.
If I could tell anyone aching for a place called home, I’d recount my personal experiences. It may not be of help until they witness their own extraordinary journey unfold before themselves, but at the very least I would like to tell them that no one is alone in this quest and they have come too far to give up now.