Saturday, January 22, 2011

Where is Home?

Our Facebook friends may have just noticed that we have changed the "Current City" on our profiles from San Francisco to Santiago.  We don't have a home in San Francisco right now, except maybe for the storage unit.  We are not supposed to sleep there anyway.  We moved our legal residence to our niece's house in Oakland, and that way we can still vote since we intend to resettle in San some point.  We are programmed up until leaving New York City in mid-November.  But if something came up, a house-sitting opportunity for instance, we might well do that instead.  Anyone taking a semester sabbatical from BYU need not contact us.  It would have to be in some place where we would actually want to live.  In the United States, that generally includes Hawaii, the West Coast, and the East Coast north of the Mason-Dixon Line.  Not Utah.

So as our walkabout continues, we will be changing our current city to Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; Cork, Ireland; and Paris, France.  That is where we will be living, so in turn, each of those will be the current city.  But, where is "home?"

I grew up in the Air Force, and my father used to say that home is where you hang your hat.  I really didn't buy that, especially when we lived in Duluth, Minnesota.  But that is just what we are saying now, isn't it?

Yesterday, David and Louis went with us on a tour of the Concha y Toro winery just outside Santiago.  On our tour was a Canadian couple who were about to start a cruise in Valparaiso.  When Penny explained that we live here now, and what we have planned for this year, we got the usual reaction of utter amazement.  But then you could see the wheels turning in the lady's head.  She was thinking so hard that she almost had smoke coming out of her ears.  Then she started asking serious questions about the logistics of being homeless gypsies that don't live in a park and push a shopping cart.  Maybe there will be another bonkers couple on the road soon!

If you are still with me, then please consider this from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Self Reliance."  Here goes:  "It is for want of self-culture that the superstition of Traveling, whose idols are Italy, England, Egypt, retains its fascination for all educated Americans...The soul is no traveler, the wise man stays at home, and when call[ed] into foreign lands, he is at home still...and visits cities and men like a sovereign and not like an interloper or valet...  He who travels to be amused...his mind [becomes] old and dilapidated...Traveling is a fool's paradise.  Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places.  At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness.  I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from."

I must take strong exception.  I may be Emerson's fool in paradise.  I may be a fool to take issue with a great philosopher although he, himself, says elsewhere in that essay that I would not be.

I firmly believe that travel has broadened me and made me a better person.  Living in Japan broadened and shaped me immeasurably.  I love it.  So does Penny.  Some environments are conducive to some endeavors, and others may not be.  But I can't agree that the wise person stays at home.  Some may do so, but some others may travel.   But Emerson does have another good point here, and that is that one cannot escape one's self by travel.  One cannot run away from one's self.  That part makes sense, and having traveled a great deal, I can agree with the philosopher on that point.   If you are not already happy, then you won't find happiness by going on walkabout.

We are quite happy on walkabout, just as we were quite happy in San Francisco.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, that if you are happy, then travel will only enhances that happiness. I find that I learn something new about myself, my travel partner(s) and the citizens of the world every time I embark on a journey away form the homeland. I hope to instill the joy and amazement of travel to my boys!