As a tween, I'd read about these Homecoming events in American highschools and wonder what the heck they were. What did a homecoming mean? A welcoming return. Where were these parades and parties celebrated? In gyms, banquet halls, and football fields. When did a homecoming occur?
Autumn. Why did they involve voting in a Homecoming court? I still have no clue why this tradition appeals in a democracy.
Beyond those early musings, I've been thinking about what it means to be Homesick for a long time, (in the sense of longing for a place that is familiar, and also an environment that is toxic and could make one ill).
There's this word in Finnish I recently found out about, kaukokaipuu, and it means "a feeling of homesickness for a place you've never visited." Brilliant. And another reason to remember what English teacher Patricia Ryan says in her TEDTalk about sharing ideas in other languages. No surprise then, to learn that not everything can be translated, that words exist in other languages for feelings we can't name in one term in English. When a language disappears, the whole wide world loses and the loss is irreparable. Not all languages are written, and this article about the Moken, a sea-nomad tribe that survived the tsunami in 2004, emphasizes the point that oral cultures have much too teach us. The piece ends with the question, “If there is no one to tell the stories, how will future generations prepare?”
We are all ill-equipped here. I wish there was a manual, a Code of Conduct for Human Life, though I suppose this is what the Buddha offered in his teachings—the fundamental wisdom of "Do No Harm." Most injury is caused by fear and doubt—the companions that will stalk us for years.
As Pema Chödrön says, "If you're invested in security and certainty, you are on the wrong planet."
Meditation teacher Tara Brach says, "Our true sickness is homesickness," and that we suffer when we feel cut off. (Listen to her talks on Radical Acceptance on Youtube.) These teachers and their words make me feel less alone in my meandering existence. Because we are all yearning for a safe space, a refuge, a fortress of mercy--whether we know it or not. This need propels us through so many of our relationships and is the desire behind all of our decisions. I used to think it was just me, but I know better now. A smidgen better. And that's enough.
No, you're not alone. Know you're not alone.