The Soul of a Home

May 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Thomas Moore wrote that “when we devote ourselves to soul, other attachments may have to be loosened, and when we grant soul its own intentionality and purposes, we may have to ease our attachment to long-held values and expectations.”

This well articulates where I stand in relation to my choices these days. As one friend noted, I am moving away from Montreal for reasons that are at a “gut level.”  Even I am not fully conscious of what might await me on the other side of this decision.  I have few expectations, and thankfully, relatively few fears.

I have thought a lot about the nature of our homes over the last while as I have been forced to change my own.  I like to look at the physical structure of one’s living space as a metaphor for what a person is going through in life.  A friend of  mine who is in the midst of a difficult divorce recently moved into a new apartment that has a musty basement she is curiously fascinated with and sometimes afraid of.  Is the basement perhaps a symbol of her unconscious being made conscious?  Of course, it would be only up to her to decide on its meaning.  When my Mom went through a divorce of her own, she moved into a travel trailer.  A desire for freedom maybe, or a longing to escape?  Perhaps simply a need for “a room of one’s own”, its smallness by its nature made it all and only hers.   A home with wheels is a fruitful metaphor.

When I look at what I am going through in relation to my home I see many metaphors.   This month, I decided to cut loose my ties with a particularly beautiful apartment that was a symbol of everything I had tried to accomplish in Montreal over many years of  hard work, building community, and a vision for the kind of life I wanted.  But my soul had other plans.

The beauty of this apartment has made it really hard to let go of, and I have held onto it over two absent winters. Each time I come back here I am reminded not of what I have accomplished but of what I have lost.  Perhaps this was the plan all along.  Perhaps the beauty of this apartment is an invocation to feel; or more importantly, an invocation to grieve.   The beauty of this place – the way sunlight moves through the rooms, the blossoming apple tree outside the kitchen window, the high ceilings and birdsong – reveal the possibilities for my life, and also force me to become conscious of where my work still lies.    An apartment cannot create intimacy, love, compatibility, peace, or a flourishing career —  only the soul – and its unique destiny – can do that.

I wish I could say I had been worthy of this place enough to fully embody its potential–  and by worthy I suppose I mean conscious, realistic, and self-aware.  Sweet apartment, you have been a blessing in that you have not judged me, only asked of me to grow and change, what I wanted all along.

And so I move on.  Today I am thinking about the home I am moving into in a couple of weeks.   I had hoped for a sunny and bright-walled cabin.  But my soul has other plans.  The new cabin’s walls are a dark wood, and the windows are small.   A womb-like haven for a journey homeward?  When I stepped inside I felt my heart would be happy there.   I look forward to its plans for me.


§ One Response to The Soul of a Home

  • jill fowles says:

    it’s so sad to say goodbye to a home. can you feel yourself letting go as you sell things and give things away and your apartment gets emptier and emptier. I hope you can start to feel excitement about your new home which i know you will make beautiful and distinctly yours. i know you are torn about your decision to say good bye to montreal but i hope you are also feeling excited about the future, even though it hasn’t completely come into focus yet. your essay made me cry because you wrote it so beautifully but also because i also have said goodbye to many beautiful homes and i want you to know that there will be more and maybe even more beautiful. love, mom

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