Many years ago, sitting together in the kitchen and listening to the radio, my mom told me that the music we had just heard – the largo movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, upon which the spiritual, “Goin’ Home” was based – always made her feel homesick.
Today, that music evokes the same feelings in myself.
How can we be homesick even in our own homes? It must be more than nostalgia. What is it that we long for?
My friend, Stan took his mom home and cared for her as she died from pancreatic cancer. He said that he realized that even as he nursed over her, even to her last breath, she was still mothering him. She was still putting her son before herself and looking after him. For many of us, home is where our mothers are.
When life is overwhelming, we can feel a sense of emptiness though our agendas and inboxes and the rooms in our homes are stuffed full. When we feel lost, when we find ourselves on the wrong path, a sense of longing returns.
It is a longing for a place where we feel safe, at peace and whole – where we are loved unconditionally just as we are.
While growing up, my family watched “The Wizard of Oz” when it would appear on television once each year. Video tapes and DVDs did not exist in those days, and missing an episode of the “Bionic Woman” caused more angst than it does today.
Though Dorothy’s adventures were frightening to my sister and I when we were small (particularly those flying monkeys), her quest to get back home had deeper meaning as we grew up.
After risking their lives and limbs (the Scarecrow’s, that is), Dorothy and her friends discovered that they each already had what they had longed for. We used to wonder why Belinda, the good witch didn’t tell Dorothy right away that all she had to do was to tap her ruby slippers together and say, “There’s no place like home.”
She, like us, had to take the journey and find out for herself. The bigger lessons in life are not taught to us in school or read from a book; we learn from life itself.
Was Dorothy really at home all the time or had she entered an alternate reality? Was it a dream? Was it just the concussion talking? Sport medicine note: if running around in a twister was a sport, we’d put Dorothy on the sidelines until her post-concussive symptoms subsided.
We each have what we need to feel complete, loved and at peace. Our meandering journey is not lost time or time in the wasteland but life lived. It is on this journey that we discover and deepen our relationships with ourselves, others and life itself.
To satisfy our longing, we must let go of our losses and hold fast to that which lasts –our memories, our values, and lessons we have learned; love received and love expressed, and our connection with others.
It can be hard to believe that what you truly long for and need, you already have. That can only be so once you’ve realized that you don’t need what you had wanted – to be on top of the world, to earn more money, to buy more things. You discover that you have what you need when through the living of life you have found yourself and what really matters to you.
So create the home you have longed for with those who count with you, your family, your partner, your children and your friends. My friend, Stan and I were both blessed with mothers who loved us just as we were and no matter what we did. At the same time, they always believed and brought out the best in us.
As I check on my daughter, an hour after I have tucked her in, now sleeping soundly in her favourite blanket, I know that she is at home and so am I.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician and writer. His Healthwise Column appears in the Vancouver Courier and Burnaby Now.
His internet radio show, Positive Potential Medicine can be found at positivepotentialmedicine.pwrnradio.com.
You can find his tweets at twitter.com/DrDavidicusWong and his posts at facebook.com/davidicus.wong