Depending on where you come from and who you are, a home can mean several things. For a child with loving adults in the household, a home can mean protection, security and warmth. For someone in an abusive relationship, a home can mean a prison. For a middle-aged homemaker whose kids have moved away, a home can mean an empty nest. For an acutely lonely single, a home can mean a hollow space they’d rather escape every day than return to. For an introvert, home can mean blissful solitude. For the slum-dwellers in Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Katherine Boo’s new book Behind the Beautiful Forevers, their huts represent both haven and hell. For a fashionista I know with two large mansions in New Delhi, home represents the terror of keeping up appearances, and a chore.
For me, home means luxury, love and comfort, and yet it’s also a place where I struggle with fittings, plumbing and daily routine. It represents both ecstasy and exasperation – much like my relationship with my teenaged kids! Which leads me to think that perhaps a home is not just a space, a physical confine or done-up rooms. It’s the sum of all our relationships with those who live in it with us, including ourselves. The more balanced and loving those bonds are, the more meaningful and fulfilling our association with ‘home’.
The oldest cliché in the world – ‘home is where the heart is’ – actually contains a spiritual truth. Our home, to each of us, is a reflection of our most intimate relationships and self-love. With the heart’s true intent, we make a home.
So does the answer to my plumbing issues and broken locks lie in calming my temper with my teens? Maybe, maybe not – but I’m sure we’ll all benefit from my trying!