Yesterday, I celebrated my father’s 70th birthday with my family on Long Island. No matter how many different places I have unpacked my boxes and arranged the books on my shelves, my home will always start on Long Island and radiate out to include those those people, or that person, who makes me feel like I am indeed home again.
Thinking about home, as I was taking the ferry back to Connecticut after the party, made me a little sad. Perhaps it was just being in the middle of the Sound (I guess I’m a bit of a Romantic), perhaps it was what I was leaving behind (again), or perhaps it was what I was coming back to, but I realized that my sense of being home was fractured. And this made me contemplate the notion of home more deeply — what does it mean to feel at home? How does the interplay between my memory and my current circumstances reinforce that feeling of home? What are the necessary parts that constitute “Home”?
Thinking of the cliche, “Home is wear you hang your hat,” I started to deconstruct that pithy saying to see if I could siphon out something more meaningful. What I teased out from my analysis is that home is not just a place of rest, it should be a peaceful place where you are free to both be yourself and leave your crap wherever you feel like it. I mean, if you hang your hat from a doorknob, and you feel good about that, and no one gives you any grief about it, then you’re home. If you hang your hat over your favorite chair and no one shakes their head in disgust but rather just smiles and leaves it there, then you are home. I mean, you shouldn’t necessarily clog the toilet with your hat, but within reason home should be where you are free, and fun, and clean again; where the manifestations of one’s Self are free to remain largely undisturbed, thereby decorating one’s domestic landscape in a true reflection of the internal “Home”.
And when it is time to clean house in order to get back your home, then that’s just what you should do.
And that’s just what I am going to do.
And that’s is my Love Song.
In psychology, inattentional blindness is the inability to perceive something that is in one’s field of vision because of attending to something else.
This week, I actually used this phenomenon as a justification for resending a third revision of a paper I was submitting to a conference. My first version was too long (I failed to pay attention to the word limit), and the second version, though edited to fit the word limit, was flawed. I failed to see the clunky nature of my opening paragraph nor the fact that I repeated myself unnecessarily in the paragraphs that followed nor that my conclusion was, well, weak.
So, I explained to my reviewers that due to my inattentional blindness, I was going to fix my errors and resubmit an infinitely better version of my paper worthy of their attention. (At least, I hope it is worthy.)
It struck me, though, that this notion of inattentional blindness is something that has plagued me in many other areas of my life — particularly as it relates to my life choices and matters of the heart. I have historically allowed myself to get distracted by the everyday stresses of life, tried to please and appease others to avoid conflict, and fixated on the existential uncertainty of tomorrow. The upshot? All these things have made me blind to the important things in life, the things that have been directly in my field of vision but I did not see. And I can boil these neglected things as follows:
faith, hope and love.
“O foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes, but see not,
who have ears, but hear not…” (Jeremiah 5)
And here I thought I was so aware..
One of the interesting things about cognitive science is learning about the tremendous potentials and limitations of our thinking, reasoning, and memory. As a theatre artist, I’ve known that what we do and what we say does not necessarily correlate to what we know, how we think, or how we feel. With that in mind then, is it so surprising when we stumble upon inconsistencies in our selves and other people? Why are we so taken aback when what we thought was true is suddenly revealed as something completely alien to our expectations?
Presently, I’m trying to focus on solitude, patience, and forgiveness. I’m trying to minimize my expectations and my impetuous words and actions. I’m trying to love myself even in light of my many imperfections and my anxiety about the unknown.
My mother told me when I was a child that I had five great aunts that were contemplative nuns — all from the same family. I couldn’t really wrap my head around why five women would all decided to renounce the world, family, friends, children, and a spouse to dedicate themselves to life of silence, humility and prayer. These days, I am finding myself understanding them and their choices in ways I could never have anticipated in my youth. As St. Francis said: Make me a channel of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love, injury pardon, and doubt true faith; grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love with all my soul.
Would that these incantations could become incarnate in my life…