Home. The shape my lips form to say this word evokes a sense of simple nostalia, a longing for origin. From where I come, in which I dwell. That which surrounds me. Trace it back far enough in time and we arrive at a similarly-shaped sound: womb. Expand, and we sense we are already still in the womb of our grandest mother, the earth. Home: an earth-shaped word. Let’s consider the importance of home on our identities, as our origin, and recognize the sacredness of the earth right here. We tend carefully our relationship with the subtly textured landscape of home, for this primal relation serves as metaphor and mirror for all of our relations.
In Greek, the word for home is oikos, from which derive words like ecology, which truly means the study of home. It is a decidedly violent tendency in modern western endeavors to try to abstract ourselves, our ideas, and our motivations from their situated context — or home – in favor of such lofty goals as ascendance, objectivity, and separation from the physical plane. Donna Haraway (1986) might call this a certain type of “God Trick”, by which we claim to be taking on an objective stance by denying our own embodiment, interrelatedness of physical context, and historical trajectory. One of the primary quests of ecology is to understand and describe these contexts and contingencies.
Home could be envisioned as the external environment that we have conformed to so well that we do not recognize it as separate from ourselves. I have heard it said that the last ones to discover water would be the fish, a fun fact that I was reminded of earlier today by an esteemed professor. She was using this as an analogy to talk about the reason humans have had trouble with the concept of “nature”– because it has been habituated into the surrounding matrix that we consider to be home. From a young age, home constantly infiltrates the senses, shaping us in specific ways so that the space we occupy fits us so snugly that we do not so much move within the environment as much as move with it in a co-creative dance that blurs the lines between cause and effect, subject and object, experiencer and experienced.
We experience our external world through our perception, but it is more closely our own internal reaction or resonance to some “externality” that we are experiencing. In this way, internal and external are mirrors of the same reality, with our perception occupying the space between. Such is the fractalline nature of the universe, that we are given this small piece of conscious matter to attend to, which resonates and morphs along within and without the entirety of existence. Perhaps the existence of perception in this intermediate space is more of a certainty than the existence of either the internal or external can ever be. Is it our embodiment, or circumstance of being (in?) a body, that enables our own continuity of experience (and hence construction of the concept of being a distinct “self”), because it is that which gives us our perceptive faculties?
Right now, we can take our more abstract idea of home and root it into the physical plane through our own bodies – we supplant ourselves back into our bodies, the home of consciousness as we know it, into space-time, into the earth, and breathe deeply. Breath is our constant communion, the ever blending of internal and external, the wind inside of us that invokes our entire lived experience. Respiration is the process by which we continually become re-inspirited, lest we forget the roots of this word. Inspiriting our bodies in this way also inspirits the body of the earth, for our bodies are of the earth. Lest we forget that the roots of this world lie within each of us.