Have you ever paused to contemplate the idea of home? What it means to you; what it may mean to others? Did your thoughts fly immediately to your house, your garden, your family, as mine used to? Or is your concept of home more expansive, to include your people, your culture, your country?
On my trip to Outback Queensland recently, I was moved to re-examine my idea of home.
As we navigated long stretches of single lane roads towards distant wide horizons I began to truly appreciate the aboriginal notion of ‘belonging to country’. Rather than owning the land, the land ‘owns’ them. Their creation myths are ‘written’ into the landscape. Their spirituality and connected-ness with all living things is expressed by ‘country’.
In the Outback, pausing in solitude to watch the darkness fall (there is virtually no twilight) and witness the huge dome of star studded sky appear overhead is truly humbling. I felt so small in comparison. But I also felt at peace; a part of something much bigger.
Cities have a tendency to shield one from this aspect, wrapping around our self importance and busy-ness, obscuring the wide open spaces like the Outback and the deep spiritual connection it evokes. I felt a sense of belonging; I felt like I was ‘home’.
Travelling has a way of widening one’s view, of taking one out of one’s comfort zone to see and experience how others understand their existence and how they live their lives. The people I met from remote cattle stations and in the many small towns we visited were a resilient bunch. They suffer the vagaries of all manner of weather: drought and floods, changing economic climates. And they navigate the challenges that isolation poses with a laconic stoicism and dry humour.
I have discovered upon reflection, my idea of home is multi-dimensional. Returning with this perspective to my apartment and tiny courtyard garden, I see anew and I’m grateful for it. Exploring the notion from the perspective of others has been instructive and something I’ll write about further in coming posts.
At every turn, I could hear a poem from my childhood in my head. The poet describes this aspect of my home perfectly. Perhaps because it was hers too.
I love a sunburnt country
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains
I love her far horizons
I love her jewel seas
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me
For those who don’t recognise this stanza from Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, My Country, it’s worth taking time to read the whole poem.