‘ You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.’
In the last couple of months, I encountered the words home and house several times, due to a personal project that my husband and I have been on. I had to use these words, describe it to others (those who know me, and to strangers), and it is this that aroused my curiosity around the two words, nudging me to go deeper into the true essence they hold.
What is a home? What is a house?
As I stayed with both these words, and began to jot down what it brought up for me, it led me to a deep understanding, an insight, that has now begun to shift a few things for me within. And it’s this journey with the two words, that I wish to share with you.
I started by first looking at the non-human world.
How do these two words – house and home play out for the other species?
In most of the species, a house is what a creature builds or modifies a space, for a specific period. It could be to give birth and raise their young ones, or to take shelter during a specific season/weather. In other words, a house is a physical structure/space that is meant to offer shelter and protection. It only serves a few specific functions, largely ones needed for survival, and not all that is needed for Life to thrive and flourish.
A home or what is also referred to as a habitat is far more crucial to these beings than the house. It is the place where they are alive, and in deep interaction with Life. It is where they are in constant live feedback loop from what feeds, strengthens and nourishes them in more ways than one. They are always plugged into the web of interdependency. In the presence of other beings, in the direct or indirect engagement or alertness with them and of them, by cueing into the elements of nature, it leads to learning, attunement, adaptation, expansion, growth, partnerships, community, sharing, giving, awareness and evolution.
This beautiful distinction of how these two words behave in the non-human world, began to make me feel all goose-bumpy with the following awareness:
Home is interdependency. It is interconnection. It is me being engaged actively, participating fully in the web of Life. I am as much a giver here, as I am the receiver. Each of my choices at home, have consequences (nourishing or otherwise) because I am in connection with the other.
A house on the other hand, is only a part of a home. It is only a part of the whole.
I then wondered:
If as humans, we are very much a part of the natural world, how have these two words been playing out in our cultures, since we arrived on earth?
I began to connect the dots:
- In the 200,000 years we have been on earth as humans, we spent over 190,000 years of it, at home. The house was a part of this home and only built to meet a few specific functions (shelter, protection, nurture of young ones). We pretty much followed the time-tested pattern of the non-human world.
And so, it was the interaction and engagement, the interdependency and interconnection, with all elements that surrounded us, that the home provided, that helped us expand and evolve. Because our nourishment was directly linked to the well-being of all other parts (human and non-human) that made up the whole, most of our choices were made in alignment with this whole.
- As we observe the human culture today, most of the 5000 different groups of Indigenous Peoples from across the world, still live in deep engagement in the home that belongs to the human and non-human world. They know that without this home, there is no house. They continue to show us, and offer us that wisdom, which we can find ways in which to smartly adapt them to our lives too.
- That brings me to people within our circle of family and friends, in our community, in our towns, in the various sub-cultures within our countries, we certainly do know of, who have been borrowing and finding ways to integrate it into their daily lives. Who are in this active participation with home, with their habitat. They are part of the interconnected web, serving-contributing-giving & receiving.
Whether in the non-human world, or in the human world, the house is a place of temporary retreat (on a daily, monthly, seasonal, yearly basis) to largely meet certain survival functions like shelter-protection-nurture. It nests inside a home/habitat.
A home is where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It is where all beings (humans & non-humans) are interconnected through the web of life, and are interdependent for growth and expansion.
This insight and understanding couldn’t have come to me at a more appropriate time. As I am shaping my work, it has left me to reflect on actions I am taking/actions I am not taking, which a dear friend further held mirror to, as I narrated the above to her. I share with you below how this learning is beginning to influence me:
- Where am I overprotecting myself and not stepping into the arena? Which part of my work is now ready to come out of the shelter? In other words, where I am still seeking the comfort of the house, when I need to be in the arena of the home, for it to grow and expand?
- A part of my responsibility in a home is the one of interdependency. So – Where am I asking? Where am I giving? Where am I not giving? What is my contribution/service in my home? Whom am I in the service of? This reiterates interdependency is when both giving and receiving is welcome, and in flow.
- If part of my work brings forth interaction with children, in which spaces will I be sheltering them, protecting them and moving them into survival? In which spaces will I allow for connection, growth and expansion? This offers a beautiful guidance to shape the interaction.
And from a big picture perspective, the followings questions come up, and I offer it to all of us to reflect upon:
- If we as a species, need homes to be nourished for expansion, can it be fulfilled by removing balconies, play areas, parks, gardens, beaches, low compound walls, all the green and the blue, which is where we see-listen-sense-interact-engage with humans and non-humans?
- How big a house is needed to meet the needs it fulfills? And how big a home is needed to nourish our interconnected, our interdependency and therefore our well-being?
- We might be able to live without a house, can we live without a home?
Journeying with these two words, brings both freedom and responsibility. Freedom, that we indeed have all the birds, the bees, the non-human world, coupled with the human world, to hold us, and our work and our actions. That we are not alone. It also means, it guides us to take more responsibility for our service, as now, we too are holding this web.
This is home.
I am deeply grateful for what this insight has opened up for me, to act upon.
As you read this, and sit with it, if this brings up anything for you, I ask of you to share, so we can weave this web of interconnectedness together.
Thank you for reading.