I listened to this TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert of the Eat, Pray, Love fame and what she articulated resonated with me. She talks about how she’s found her home through her writing. Because of this torch, failing is inconsequential. She is not wedded to an outcome, but finds devotion in the process. In this piece she defines home: “Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. So that might be creativity, it might be family, it might be invention, adventure, faith, service, it might be raising corgis, I don’t know, your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.”
For the last twenty years of my life, I’ve written in some form. Whether it was a thesis for my English literature class or short-stories for my creative writing course or an appellate brief for a client, words thread my life together. Only in the last few years, I’ve discovered how writing exacts a comfort that I cannot find anywhere else. After my father’s passing five years ago, I plunged into a deep canyon of sadness. I could not figure out my grief. Others tried to console, but their good-intentioned words lacked a texture that I needed. Instead, I started writing again to excavate my emotions and understand the complexities of witnessing a parent passing away. But I learned something as I started exploring writing again. It became more than just finding a way to channel my grief, but discovering a way to feel at home again.
For so long, I defined home linearly. Home centered on geography – where your family lived or where you came from or where you spent a set number of years. When I married and had my daughter, the definition of home evolved to include more people, to other geographical places, but when my father passed, I needed to redefine home again. This is where writing became a safe place to return. Over the last few years, writing in this space or in my memoir, helped me navigate and reconfigure a new map. Isn’t this what we are constantly doing? Aren’t we all trying to find a place to feel home or call home? After reviewing pieces that I’ve written here, a large part of my focus centers on home. What it was or what it is becoming, or how I am trying to reconstruct it based on what is in my now. Through all these explorations, one constant remains: I am writing.
Writing is my one safe place. That safe place is what we are all looking for.
Image: “Pen and Paper” by Dinuraj K via Flickr.