HOME. It is more than a place, more than a location. It is a feeling and a state of mind. Home is usually associated with many memories. Home can be a place you are very attached to. Home can be filled with stuff that helps you define who you are and your relation to the world. ‘Home is where the heart is’ goes the saying, although I am not entirely certain what this means. ‘This place feels like home’ is another saying, one I have said myself on occasions. In reality it makes little sense as I find we always tend to say this almost right upon arriving. What then is the feeling of home?
The feeling of home is no doubt very important to us. It is a feeling I try to re-create whenever I can. Presently I have no home so I must seek other ways to feel at home. As some will know; I sold almost everything I owned including my home two years ago and am traveling the world in search of, well, many things. Images, people, experiences, places, me. I still live as a nomad.
A sense of security, a sense of my own private space. A feeling of being comfortable and at rest. A place where I can breathe and just be. A place where I can re-charge in solitude. That is some of the things that home means to me. I have found that as a nomad I cannot re-create the entire feeling of home. It is simply one of the things I gave up when I began my nomadic existence. But still needing a home I must be creative. About 50-60 different beds have been ‘home’ the past two years. Some have been home for just a day, some for months. Everything from tents to swags under the stars to hostels to fantastic times living on boats in Australia.
There are days where I love the freedom and the feeling that I can accomplish everything. That impossible is nothing. Days where dreams come true and I truly believe I am building up to something that will end up having meaning and making a difference. Then there are the other days. The days where I long for having my own home. Where the world spins far too quickly and my brain screams for some stability, a 9-5 job and a home. Freedom and life without a home magnifies the highs and lows.
The past two years have taught many lessons, one of them being that I may be a nomad but I must re-create some of the feelings of home quite often. Being a nomad does not mean I always have to travel. It is taxing living on the road and my only way of recharging is feeling secure in my own space, where I can remember to pause and breathe. Just an hour in a park listening to music on headphones with my eyes closed can help immensely. I need these moments of solitude to face the world again. I may become distant or walk away in social situations as I create moments of solitude, moments of home. Home also means a place where I can unpack my things even for just a little while. Living out of a bag becomes somewhat tiring, unpacking my tooth brush is a way to be home.
Naturally I will one day have a home again somewhere. Apparently I said “I could totally live here” so many times in Papua New Guinea it became a running joke. Certainly, I am fond of the tropical climate and can see it as a home. In the meantime my own secure space where I can pause, even just space inside my head, is what home is to me presently. What home is to others is very fascinating to me. My path has taken me to many places in the world and I have the opportunity to document how people live and it is a story that has taken on great meaning for me.
We all call the same planet home yet we live in very different conditions. From luxury mansions to towering steel structures to huts made of cow dung. We are born into very different lives in different parts of the world. The large contrast spans from city life in a hectic mega metropolis like Bangkok to life on a tropical island with no electricity in Papua New Guinea. When I look out over Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory it seems a vast industrial planet made up entirely of city lights. When I trek through a forest in Laos arriving at a remote hilltop village reachable only by crossing a river on foot, it seems almost impossible I am still on the same planet.
How we live seems to have a profound effect on how we feel and behave. Often in rich suburbia, fences are built and security companies patrol the streets. It appears the more money and stuff we have the more cautious and suspicious we become. We feel we must protect and not share our home. The opposite is the smiles and warm and kind hospitality that I have encountered in poorer countries. People may not have much but what they have they not only treasure, they also share. This has happened in so many places it cannot be a fluke. The people I have met in places like Laos, Kenya, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea have touched me deeply with their warmth and hospitality, smiles and spirit of life. I do not wish to idealize their lives, there is nothing romantic about being poor, I wish to merely reflect on a paradox. In these poorer countries where people have very little and struggle for food and money, there is an amazing spirit and joy of life expressed by everyone. Much more so than is on immediate display in developed rich countries where we have so much but perhaps take it for granted.
We live in entirely different ways in entirely different homes. But I find the more I travel the more I discover that we are all the same. We all share the same planet. We all have so much in common and want the same things no matter where and what our home and everyday life is on our planet. Carl Sagan says: “it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known”.
Our homes and everyday lives is a story I very much look forward to further explore and document.
THE ‘HOME’ STORY IN IMAGES. I chose a variety of images of people and their homes for this story and present them in a new way. Click the image below to load the image story and then scroll right to see all the images, like a book.
EDIT: The HOME story is now available as a magazine, click to read more about NOMAD magazine.