Sunday, 20 July 2014

just passing through

In the week leading up to moving house, I bought a tent.  And in the first week in our new home, I set it up in our back garden.  There were loads of things to do--organize the kitchen, the bedrooms, the home education space, the toys, the clothes--but I wanted to make sure my tent was in order and that I knew how to put it up quickly. Just in case.

Just in case a zombie invasion? Just in case peak oil?  

Well, no, I like the idea of a portable home. Plain and simple. 

And I like the idea of traveling lightly even more.  The lighter my load, the more I pass on, the more feasibly it is for me to take a step somewhere else. So I am playing this silent game with myself--how much can I pass on--knowing that as its only player, I am making room for some just in case moment, whether it be a public family event or a more quite inner revelation. 

This game encourages me to think about home and houses and how my children will never experience home in the same way I do (my father continues to live in my childhood home).  To them it can't be about the structure and space because we have never lived any where for longer than 5 years.  

But now I have my tent.  It is not exactly ideal, I don't call it home, and I don't know how often we might use it, but the idea of it encourages me to be easy on myself: it is okay that home is more of an emotional landscape for our family than a physical one.  

This tent invites me to consider what I value and what I would take along, just in case.

Children's author, Julia Donaldson, writes in her Jack and the Flum Flum Tree about a Granny who gives her grandson Jack a patchwork sack for his seemingly dangerous adventure. In the sack are ordinary things: chewing gum, tent pegs, balloons.  He comes to need each item to complete his journey and return home safely to his Gran.  His resourcefulness I admire.

What ordinary things do we need?  My mind instantly goes for all the practical things: knife, bowl, warm blanket, shelter, food.  But what I forget is what is really inside that patchwork sack  (made by Gran): time, love, creativity, trust, sense of purpose and meaning.  

I used to think that life is about finding home, but today as I started making a patchwork sack for my daughter and started dreaming about making one for myself, I realize that life is about creating home wherever you are and for however long you there.  It can be about colours, about qualities, about ideals and about dreams.  It can be about space and about emotions.

The real gift of that patchwork sack is its creativity.  And the real gift of that tent I bought is that it has given me a new understanding.  Roger Deakin writes in Wildwood:  "There's more truth about a camp because that is the position we are in.  The house represents what we are ourselves would like to be on earth: permanent, here for eternity.  But a camp represents the true reality of things: we're just passing through."

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