I was driving in the car yesterday when I heard the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Part of the song’s refrain is “home is wherever I’m with you.”
And I thought to myself, I don’t feel that way.
I’m not trying to be a cynic – the lyrics simply don’t ring true for me. What if the “you” he sings about dies, or leaves him? What happens then? Is he homeless?
Then I started thinking about other songs with a similar message, for example, Billy Joel’s “You’re My Home:”
When you touch my weary head
And you tell me everything will be all right
You say, “Use my body for your bed
And my love will keep you warm throughout the night”
Well I’ll never be a stranger and I’ll never be alone
Whenever we’re together, that’s my home
Soooo….basically what Billy is saying in this song is “Home is just another word for you….until I leave you for a supermodel and then it actually becomes another word for her.”
But the song that pisses me off the most is “All of Me” by John Legend: “All of me loves all of you.” If I were to re-write that song, the lyrics would say something like: “Most of me loves a large percentage of you, but definitely not the part that leaves your wet towel on the bed, or drives my car and leaves the gas tank on empty, or the part that insists on wearing this hat.”
But I guess that’s why I’m not a songwriter.
I know I sound a little…jaded. I just take issue with the whole “you complete me” concept; that you need a romantic partner in order to feel at home. Billy Joel sings, “I’ll never be alone, whenever we’re together, that’s my home.” No wonder he’s been married so many times.
The way I see it, we are born into this world alone, and ultimately we die alone. It’s a solo mission. Solitude bookends our life experience. You are the bread that holds your life sandwich together. The people and experiences in your life are the meat and the cheese – that which gives it flavor and texture. But you are the bread.
I had my first glimpse of this reality when I had surgery to remove my colon. It was a pretty big
colon surgery – 5 or 6 hours in the OR – and I was scared. But Phil was more scared. When the nurse handing him the plastic bag of my belongings in the prep room, I saw it in is face, in his feverish-looking eyes: Fear.
Phil walked with me as they rolled me down the hall to the OR, but once those double doors swung close, I was on my own. Alone. Going into surgery and in the week that followed, I had to find a way to be a comfort to myself. I had to breathe my way through the fear, pain and discomfort – count the ceiling tiles, watch the second hand on the clock, repeat the mantra “any minute now” as I waited for the nurse or for the pain meds to kick in, which most of the time, never did. I could not run from the pain so instead had to enter it
while my 80 year old roommate ate a cheesesteak with onions. I closed my eyes and imagined the pain as a kaleidoscope of colors – red being the worst, yellow being the best. It was transformative. I learned how to be at home in my own body.
But somewhere amidst moving from PA to MA and back, I lost that connection. I lost sight of….me.
Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
Last weekend, I returned (after a long absence) to the place I feel most at home: my yoga mat. I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoon at a teacher training led by my favorite teacher Colleen at Seva Power Yoga in West Chester, PA.
Leading up to the weekend, I was filled with doubt and resistance. I should be doing laundry, I should be cleaning bathrooms, I should be at soccer practice, I should I should I should. I should be creating a home for others. All these “shoulds” to mask some deeper fear about my own worth, or deservedness of very things I try to provide for others.
I am pretty sure I am not the only woman who does this.
Downward Facing Dog is the yoga pose that makes me feel most at home.
When I first started practicing yoga a decade ago – in a freezing cold gym with Ace of Base pumping in the background – Downdog felt torturous. My arms shook, my hamstrings screamed, and my sweaty palms were slick on my mat like a Slip ‘n Slide.
But eventually I learned how to ground down through my hands and feet. Not claw the mat, but root down by pressing my palms away, which creates length in my arms, allows my shoulders to slide down my back. Suddenly there is space for my head and neck to be long and neutral. My weight shifts back into my hips, and my heels sink a little deeper toward the earth.
Like life, there is a lot happening in Downdog. Nothing is static – small, microscopic adjustments shape the pose. One action is balanced by another. A gentle push and pull in opposite directions. Creating length in your body creates space for expansion, for flexibility, for balance. Equanimity.
Maybe I feel at home in Downdog because it helps open up the 1st Chakra, called Muladhara or the Root Chakra, located at the base of the spine.
The Root Chakra is associated with security, home, nourishment, trust and boundaries. It is associated with the color red, and with warm, earthy foods. When the Root Chakra is balanced, we feel safe and grounded. It is the “I am” chakra.
I am here.
I am safe.
I am enough.
Home is wherever I’m with ME.
*Photo by Danette Pascarella Photography