I don’t think it is news to anyone that we experience life through its contrasts. We don’t notice or appreciate hot until we get cold; we can take kindness for granted until it goes missing; we typically put off taking care of our health until it starts to deteriorate. At this moment, I am half-way through the longest trip of my life—mostly work with some vacation thrown in around the edges. Consequently, I am very present to how important ‘home’ is to me now that I am away from it for so long. In my case, Vancouver British Columbia is home. It is a home of my own choosing that I stumbled into while visiting my daughter when she was attending school on Vancouver Island. As someone who has lived in a lot of places, I found Vancouver to be everything I ever wanted. It was love at first sight.
I know it is crazy to fall in love with a place, but it can happen. I only found out later that it is generally ranked #1 in most of the best-places-to-live surveys. I live in the downtown area, so don’t even use a car much. My house has views of the ocean and the mountains and backs onto a small lagoon. I have an office patio on the water and my front door opens onto the local ‘sea wall’ which is the main drag for folks who bike, blade and run (as well as more than a few of us ‘walkers’). I can hear a half-dozen languages on a stroll to the fresh food market on Granville Island and pass people of all ages and persuasions. Street musicians and mimes keep me smiling and a local community center is outfitted with all sorts of aerobic-enhancing equipment.
But a place is just a place unless there are also people to share it with. I have found a group of great guys to hang out with. My life with Darlene is satisfying in so many ways, and my work with Adib and Shae keeps me intellectually challenged and engaged. Hopefully, I will spend more time at home next year, but the fact is that my love and appreciation of home is only enhanced by my travels. I am constantly grateful beyond words for having found a place and people to share my life with. I have friends in other cities, of course, and I hope in the coming years that I can share my home with them as well.
One of the things I am learning on this trip is that ‘home’ was always just a base for me to work or raise a family—it never had the quality of a ‘space to be’ for me. Now I can see that this may be the most important distinction about home. While it is true that ‘home’ can be anywhere, it is really a function of ‘who we are’ when we are there. As the son of a military officer, growing up involved a lot of moving and home was mostly a feeling I associated with family and furniture. Now I am seeing that home is more of a context for being ourselves—a place to let go of our pretenses and persona and relax.
I think this realization has contributed to me feeling connected to ‘home’ even when I am not physically there. In this sense, I am taking Vancouver with me wherever I go.