When I set out to write a blog I decided to call it ‘Ithaca’. Here’s the story behind that:
In Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, his Greek hero Odysseus is trying to return home after the Trojan War.
For Odysseus that place is Ithaca.
I believe that Homer was not only writing about a physical place but also a state of being. In a way, Ithaca is a metaphor for what we – and Odysseus – want and ‘need’ from life. But as Odysseus finds out, the journey is just as important as the destination – perhaps even more so – the story is certainly more thrilling on the journey with its encounters with lotus-eaters, the six-headed monster Scylla and the captivating witch-goddess Circe.
The journey is the ‘day-to-day’ with all its challenges, anxieties and even the sense of being ‘lost’. Odysseus was literally adrift at some points on his journey. That sense of being ‘adrift’, is often used to describe life when it lacks meaning. So it’s perhaps not surprising that many of use crave the security of being ‘rooted’ – to a place, person or concept that offers comfort and security.
The French philosopher Simone Weil, who herself was forced to leave France during the Second World War wrote:
‘To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognised need of the human soul.’
So what is ‘home’? It can be a place or a feeling we associate with family – but not necessarily so – after all, that place doesn’t exist for everyone – it changes – and it may represent an experience of trauma.
Rather ‘home’ could be a sense of belonging or connection.
So how to find that?
Listen to yourself. Ask yourself when have you felt secure, happy, grounded? What do you ‘need’? What do you want? Perhaps it’s something that has always been there – during good and bad times – that perhaps you’ve tried to ignore or dismiss at certain points in your life, but which never totally goes away? Is it a place? A culture? A history or an environment? Is it co-created or is it your own place? … perhaps your own ‘safe place’ which you invite other people to when you are ready? Just by acknowledging it, you begin to find ‘home’ – though remember, the search has its own way of telling you what you need.