The phrase’s author, Pliny the Elder, was a naval commander. It seems fitting that he would have a keen idea of where and what home means.
This was previously published on Parenting for Singles.
It’s hard to believe this proverb stated originally so long ago could have so much significance today. Credited for this maxim is Roman naval commander and naturalist, Pliny the Elder. Formerly Gaius Plinius Secundus, (23 AD – 79 AD), this elder is also credited for these sayings: “From the end spring new beginnings,” “The only certainty is that nothing is certain,” and my personal favorite, “Hope is the pillar that holds up the world. Hope is the dream of a waking man.”
It seems fitting to me that a naval officer would have a keen idea of where and what home means. Any persons who spend their livelihood leaving for extended periods of time and returning home time and again would perhaps be the most understanding on this subject. Surely in his context, he yearned for a place he wanted to return.
Often translated “Family is where the heart is”, the original proverb identifies that with where there is love and acceptance, is also your home. Your home is wherever or whatever place you long to be—a place where there is no judgment, only solace. This really encompasses home as the place you love most whether it’s with one’s embrace, in your current domain or in your collective memory.
“Home” is resonating within me. I moved my family recently. That’s where I’ve been for the better part of last month. I sold the home I grew most fond of, and marvel at raising my children. Parting ways with something that’s been a profound aspect of your life isn’t easy. It’s done and gone, but not the images or the feelings.
This is the home where I put the most energy. I built the deck and regenerated the landscape. I painted the entire home myself to relive the time when my father did the same to our New Jersey home—back when I was a young impressionable teenager watching him on a tall ladder. On my home, I rediscovered and relived my past only in my father’s shoes. I walked away with more than I anticipated—a way of bringing him back in my life to be with him, if only temporarily.
We’ll always remember our childhood home and the vast memories of the times that shaped us. There, we were molded into who we are today. Our more recent decisions and defining moments are influenced by moments from our childhood. What ever it is, I return to where I grew up time and again, even if its in my reminiscence.
To some, home is wherever it is you are. No matter where you end up, this is home. Recently, many families endured loss in the Colorado fires that killed six and burned over 600 homes combined—nearly 350 homes lost in only three of the many fires that ravaged the state over the last month. Most of those fires are completely contained, but the many displaced families will need to reconstruct their lives by rebuilding, losing many of the priceless and invaluable possessions they cannot replace including life. God bless them.
An anonymous displaced person once said, “I’m with my family and therefore I am home-my home is where my family is.” While in this case the author may have been temporarily homeless, regardless of hardships we endure or challenges we take on, we can always return home to our family—it’s the one place no one would turn you back- the smiles and exchange which allow us to be us without judgment or discipline. I can pray and only imagine with grief what homes the Colorado families are clinging. Their lives forever changed. Where there is challenge, we will endure. It’s in our nature.
You can pick up and go and create your home anywhere and with whomever, though you remember your roots always. It stays with you. If we don’t know our origin how do we exist? Why are we where we are? If we don’t know where we came from how do we know where we are going? Every once in a while we need to look back and gauge our distance and right our path.
While migrating birds and fish return seasonally to their natural and original habitat, regardless of the infinite miles between, new life and new cycles will result. If only in our minds we creep back in time to our beginnings, we can still identify with our roots. The families that lost their homes in Colorado fires would be seemingly starting a new life and creating new cycles.
Going home may conjure up so much from our past, including fears and pains, but if we couldn’t handle them why would we be returning. Driving or flying home for the holidays may return the memories and create new ones. Our past is lodged securely in our minds. We smile, or maybe grimace, but it’s a part of us and we accept it. Sometimes, returning heals and allows us to let go. Either way growth is inevitable.
Although home could represent an exact place or time in our lives, past or present, you will always return home. For instance, I left the New Jersey home my father painted thinking I would never return. Eventually one day while travelling with my young children there I was pointing to the home where I spent my glorious teens. While your dreams and passions will lift you to new destinations, you will always come back to where you started. If you haven’t, think about and consider. If not for you, then for your children.
Musicians often relay a place and time that may have inspired a dream. In Michael Buble’s song, “Home”—where he mellows, “I know just why you could not come along with me ’cause this was not your dream, But you always believed in me”—he chases what he believed in, but recognizes where he started and with who.
In Chris Daughtry’s Home “…I’m going to a place where love and feeling good don’t ever cost a thing … Im going home back to a place where I belong and where your love has always been enough for me … ” Even after succeeding in his dream (and getting more than he wished for), there is no place where he can substitute the love he identified with where you know people who will always believe in you.
In Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ “Home” and its subtitle, “… Home is wherever I’m with you”, “I was falling deep, deep in love with you, and I never told you till just now! Home, let me come home, home is wherever I’m with you.” Alex Ebert, the group’s creator characterizes home—and therefore love’s expression—as being with another.
The ancient author, Pliny the Elder, yearned for a place he wanted to return, and came away identifying home as where his heart was and longed to be. This strikes a chord and brings me back to a place in time, but lands me right where I am. I’ve spent a generation developing and building a home for my children. Where there is love is where we all long to be: time to come home.
—Photo credit: Hamed Saber/Flickr