There is nothing like a place called home.
Home has always been a significant part in our lives.
In the past, a home was heavily conceptualized upon physicality – a piece of land, a property, a bed – anything which generates the warm and cozy sense of home. People have progressed from relying on wild caves to building their own shelters. The expectation of home has also evolved from the fundamental survival purposes to the pursuit of luxury and higher living standards – stylish architecture and interior design, high-class geographical location, professional service…
Recently I had a catch-up with a friend. Perhaps due to both our international identities, somehow our conversation leaned towards our home back in our own original home countries. My friend shared that her sense of motherland home was ‘something only about her parents…The piece of land meant nothing’. To us, home seemed to be no longer stemming upon a fixed physical being. We both currently live in the different comfortable places in a foreign city – nice facilities, good location. Yet somehow these all do not add up to our sense of home. What we mostly talk about is more of the emotional belongingness already postulated on our minds.
I am amazed how the political, social and cultural developments have changed our concept of home within just a short period of time. Only within the last 20 years, our lifestyle is fundamentally changed by science and technology – a text can allow us to instantly contact another from any part of the world; a flight ticket can lead us to most countries within merely 48 hours.
It is no surprise that our sense of home is accordingly shifted too. Situated within the gap between the late 20th and early 21st century, we have indeed vastly changed on how we make sense of the world. Suddenly so much newness of things comes naturally under our hands. We no longer require to travel back home to see our closed ones – a call/FaceTime can do; living in another country is no new thing – overseas education or immigration is popular among many who want a better life/career path.
In another sense, we have transcended the sense of our ties with home from the overt physical and materialistic level to the deeper and fluid psychological attachment. Despite our physical distance, the image of home is always on our minds; despite our separation from the closed ones, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”.
I remember a researcher’s sharing on his thesis on the mobility of home identity among immigrants. Due to the social and political pressures, many unprivileged families are forced to leave their home countries to seek safety. Often they move from places to places, and their daily encounters are constantly shifting and changing. Their homes are no longer a stable place they are situated at. Instead it is the group they travel together on which they rely, and the group itself gradually derives the sense of belonging towards home. A strong bondage which becomes the main alternative attachment.
It is the feeling of home that we hold onto. No matter where we are, what we do, who we are with, home is where our hearts belong to. As long as we have the people we feel loved and love and feel most comfortable with, or the home culture we feel closed to. Or it is simply the simple sense of belief and faith we picture within our hearts.
And this is the place we call home.
(Photo taken from my home, Hong Kong)
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