Touring, as most things in life, has its ups and downs. The good days and the bad. Every six to eight weeks we are required to make a brand new place our home.
An incredibly powerful word. But I’ve found more recently, it’s an even more powerful state of mind.
When I think of home, several things come to mind. These can be anything from the breakfast casserole my Mother makes every Christmas morning to my favorite salon where I can always count on getting that perfect haircut to spending time playing “Taboo” and “Balderdash” at my best friend’s house to listening to a little Dave Matthews Band. All evoking those warm yummy feelings in the pit of my belly. Feelings of love, familiarity, safety, nostalgia. Unfortunately, with the exception of the DMB on my iPod, these wonderful things that cause those beautiful feelings aren’t readily available when you literally move up to nine times a year. Now look, I’m not complaining. Touring scratches the travel itch I haven’t been able to reach before. I’m a true Sagittarius; freedom-loving and restless. But I think it’s imperative to feel home, come home… especially on those days of imbalance.
The first few years of touring I was resistant to the idea that anywhere could be home. There was always something wrong with this place or that. I was constantly comparing everywhere and anywhere to home. However, I failed to remind myself that there was a reason I left home in the first place. And perhaps, it’s impossible to take your journey, to follow your path, if you never leave home.
So rather than knock every place I go because “the pizza isn’t as good here”, “it’s expensive”, “hardly anyone speaks english” or “it rains too much”, I try to focus on the treasures of each location that cause people to want to call it their home. Going outside the Top 10 list that TripAdvisor.com tells the average tourist to do has allowed me to look deeper into what makes each city tick. It’s this way that I have fallen in love with places like Portland, Vancouver, Melbourne and Brugge. Finding out what locals are proud of truly is the key to every adventure, even if it’s as simple as where to get the best poutine*.
*You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve been living in Quebec for the last two months so I’ve got this Québécois staple of french fries topped with fresh cheese curd and gravy on the brain. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it…. but don’t make it a habit.
Anyway, not only has this attitude improved my experiences in each place, it has also allowed me to become more aware of the Buddhist notion of impermanence. Like I was saying before, touring has its ups and downs. And occasionally we do end up in a place that feels less-than-desirable (Concord, North Carolina, anyone?). Or perhaps in a situation that can be, for lack of a better term, annoying. For instance, living in Montreal we had a spacious apartment with a full kitchen, but in Quebec City we’re staying in a hotel with only a mini-bar fridge that is “not recommended for food conservation” as it only gets as cold as 10° C. Two years ago had I been faced with this situation I would have adamantly griped about it daily. However today, I embrace it as I remind myself that in six weeks it won’t be an issue anymore and I’m sure I’ll be presented with a whole new challenge to work around. In short, am I really going to let a refrigerator ruin my Quebec City experience? No. This too shall pass…
My mother always says “Geography doesn’t change your problems.” Usually she would tell me this in reference to my impulse to run the second things would get a bit tough for me. In this case, a fridge wouldn’t solve my problems… and honestly, if that’s the only problem I have, what a blessed existence I live.
Reminding myself that nothing is permanent can really ease my cluttered mind. It can prevent suffering. If whatever I’m facing today is temporary am I going to give that problem the kind of power to affect me so deeply that it clouds over everything else that is good and beautiful in my life?
All these things have caused me to redefine Home. I refuse to be a modern-day Goldilocks, only willing to accept what is “Just right” for me to feel home. So I take the advice of my teacher and immediately upon arriving in a new place I “make a space”. For me it’s always an alter with my little golden Ganesha (the Hindu diety commonly referred to as the “Remover of Obstacles” or “Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles”), stones given to me from the beach in Mexico where I completed my yoga teacher training by one of those life-changing people I’m sure I’ll write about later, a Mayan stone gifted to me by A symbolizing well-being and inner happiness and a yellow glass incense burner I received via an amazing lady who for right now will just be known to you as “Zo”. It may not sound like much, but it instantly evokes those warm yummy feelings I was talking about before. And simply it’s due to love. My space is arranged with gifts given to me out of love. It becomes more apparent each day, the more and more I travel, that “home” and “love” have identical definitions.
So here I am, starting out again in a brand new place for what seems like the hundredth time, believing that anywhere actually can be my home. As long as love is there. And Dorothy is right, “There’s no place like home.”