Since I graduated high school I have lived on four continents. I’ve lived in houses, apartments, condos and a tour bus. I have traveled for school, for work and for fun. I have not spent more than two consecutive years in any one abode. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But the result of all that transience is that I find it difficult to call any one place “home.” Every place I’ve lived is threaded into the fabric of my soul. Friends I may have only briefly known in one place continue to be carried in my heart as I go to the next.
Home is not just the place where you happened to be born. It’s the place where you become yourself. –Pico Iyer
I originally became interested in photography from traveling—trying (and failing) to capture the beauty of the places I saw. I had an image of the memory in my mind but when I saw the photos I’d actually taken, they didn’t capture the details that were seared into my heart. And, while I loved the memory the same, I wanted to be able to see and share them.
So I learned to take better pictures. I also learned to write stories. And now I blog regularly, too. I love to read and research as much as I love to discuss complex issues with people who think differently to me. As Elizabeth Gilbert says in her wonderful talk on Super Soul TV: I am a hummingbird. I go from place to place, adventure to adventure, only to take a little of this and mix it with a little of that to create something all my own. I’m not driven by any singular passion. I don’t have a singular origin.
Sometimes passions, people, places or ideas stick around longer than others, but I know that there is always something new to learn, to be excited about, to explore. I’m content in the knowledge that somewhere in the tangled web of the world, I’m likely to cross paths with them again. Our stories are never finished—merely paused.
This past week my work took me near my childhood home to shoot photos of adult ice dancers. I was close enough that I got to visit with friends I haven’t seen in a long time, but far enough that I didn’t actually go home. And the funniest thing happened. I found my sense of grounding. I felt connected to the lake I used to call home, even though I was on the other side of it. I felt connected to people I’ve known for twenty years, even if it had been a few years since I’d seen them. I felt connected to the road and the many familiar stops I’ve made so many times before. I felt connected to the quality of light that’s specific to the Sierra Nevada mountains. I felt connected to photography—inspired by getting to shoot people doing something they love.
And when I returned to my current home, I relaxed into the familiar warmth of my bed, the sound of my son’s laugh, and the feel of my toes in the sand as I walked along the Pacific Ocean. I’ve seen the sun rise and set over that ocean. I’ve felt at home on both sides.
And that’s what I’ve finally come to appreciate. My sense of home is evolving, as am I. It settles me from time to time, nursing me through difficult transitions and at other times inspiring me to do more than I thought possible. Nothing is fixed. Everything is flux. Like the photos of this landscape along Highway 395, it’s familiar but every drive is different. The snow falls and melts. Flowers bloom and wilt. Cows graze, rivers flow, temperatures soar and plummet. It is beautiful. And I am interwoven with all of it.
Recently my son was Friend of the Week at school and had to make a poster, answering questions about himself to share with the class. It asked: Where are you from? His answer: Earth. He’s seven. And decades ahead of me.
Strangers are just best friends I haven’t met yet. -Kai (5 yrs old)
I could learn a lot from that kid.