There are eight million artists stories in the city. This is mine. This is “Where Is Home?”.
Three very minor events happened to me – or through me – the other day that got me thinking. On face value there is no relationship or connection among them, just scattered different moments in my day. But they all brought me to the same place. To this question: where is home?
Let me explain. I get up early and sit in some level of meditation every morning, usually about 5:45. Then after 20-30 minutes I make coffee and sit in the recliner I bought on Craigslist for $40 when I first moved to Portland five years ago. I drink a couple of cups of coffee. While I have the coffee I read something I believe to be good for me. Today it was part of a chapter in a book called “The Attractor Factor” by Joe Vitale. Just before finishing my coffee and heading upstairs to write my “morning pages”, I read this: “If you want to attract wealth and anything else, you need to own your own power. You need to own your own energy. You can ask everyone what they think about any of your goals, but in the end, you have to decide.” Within that I saw and heard the words “own your own”. They are there twice. And I flashed on my time working for Walden House in San Francisco, an old-time drug treatment outfit, and all the sayings they had you would hear repeated throughout the day. One of which was “own your own”. It was pretty clear what someone meant when they were saying that. When you have all the troubles in the world from abusing alcohol and drugs, don’t try to lay them off on somebody else, or something else. You caused them. Own your own. It got me thinking, and when I came upstairs I wrote myself a note to write a blog about owning your own.
Three hours or so later I received an email in my in-box for a TED Talk, a series of videos of people speaking about important things. This particular Ted talk featured Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” That is not a book I have read or am inclined to read, but I watched the seven minutes and was moved by the things she said. Bouncing back from failure. Bouncing back from great success. Coming to the realization that it is not about the failure or the success but about the doing of what you love. What you wake up for, what you burn to do. What she described as “going home”. I wrote a note under the ‘own your own’ note to write about home.
A few hours later, driving in the rain back from trying to hawk my art and my greeting cards to businesses along Broadway in NE Portland, the Sly and The Family Stone song “Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin) came on the radio. As soon as I heard it (for the 10,000th time) I felt I needed to write a note under the other two, this one saying “myself”, and include that in the “own my own go home be myself” blog.
So here I am. I have thought about this all day, nudged along by three small moments. Where is my home? I thought that being home for me now was my art, but only for a minute. I love my art, being an artist now, but that is not it. I don’t jump out of bed in the morning needing to paint, consumed with painting. Then I thought about my writing, and how I have written throughout my life – high school newspaper, college newspaper, daily local newspaper, federal treatment plans, program newsletters, blog, current fiction novels. But that’s not it. More that than painting, a little, but my fingers don’t bleed for all of my internally fired and driven writing everyday. So I went back in time and thought about my nearly 40 year career in human services, much of it working with kids and being pretty good at it, much of it serving in leadership positions, and being pretty good at that. Awards, public acclaim, fat raises. But I left all that to go write and record a doo wop record, and amp up my artist life.
So, where’s home? What can’t I do without? What defines me alone in the mirror, beneath this great big universe? What is my own? What is myself? Where do I go when I go home? And my answer is completely nebulous, and completely accurate.
I want to make the world feel better. That is my home. I want to entertain the world in a way that makes it brighter, lighter, more hopeful. I want to be a leader of hope, and not only hope, but ain’t no doubt about it hope. It is who I am. It is why I jump out of bed, as I wrote in a song once, with a thrill for the day. It is because I have been given yet another chance to do something or somethings to make the world a better place. It is why I “fell” into social work; it is why I “fell” into my covering high school sports; it is why I was somehow – with my incredibly haphazard, jump-around, gypsy resume – able to serve as a leader in so many programs. It is why I sit every morning, and walk in the woods, and paint pictures of flowers and pictures of the seashore, it is why I write blogs about invitations and opportunities and adventures and love and hope and getting better and leaping at chances and growing up while staying young.
It is why I have always, always liked the idea behind the song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
Home for me is trying to shine my little light. Where is home? There is home.