What is ‘home’ really?

Sunset Nadia Krige

A couple of weeks ago I posted a quote from Pico Iyer’s “Why We Travel” essay – probably one of the most intelligent pieces of travel writing ever.

And today, in one of those divine little coincidences (because I would probably not have bothered watching it if I hadn’t read that essay) I came across this amazingly profound TED talk by the very same man.

Somehow Iyer managed to cover and connect a whole range of topics I’ve been mulling over in my mind for a long time now with such ease, humour and simplicity.

Ah, you know, topics like travel and home, being in-between and feeling ‘out,’ yet fitting in with others who are other kinds of in-between, stillness as opposed to movement and movement in stillness…

I keep joking about having a quarter life crisis – that I’m generally just unsure and restless, yet at the same time also kind of excited about this weird feeling of metamorphosis.

Watching this made me even more excited… like maybe I’ve been thinking relevant thoughts after all (some of the time at least). Like maybe I’m not too far off with the things I’ve been pursuing… or at least trying to. Like maybe I will eventually be able to come up with some sort of suitable response to the whirlpool in my head – maybe not as profound as Pico’s (maybe that also comes with age and practice and experience), but a response nonetheless.

The talk is stuffed with quotable gems, but these are a few of my favourites:

“And their whole life will be spent taking pieces of many different places and putting them together into a stained glass whole. Home for them is really a work in progress. It’s like a project onto which they’re constantly adding upgrades and improvements and corrections. And for more and more of us home really has less to do with a piece of soil than a piece of soul.” (About our super mobile generation)

“There is one great problem with movement and that is that it’s really hard to get your bearings when you’re in mid-air… I began to think that, really, movement is only as good as the sense of stillness that you can bring to it to put it into perspective.”

“I do think it’s only by stopping movement that you can see where to go. And it’s only by stepping out of your life and the world that you can see what you most deeply care about… and find a home.”

“Movement is a fantastic privilege and allows us to do so much that our grandparents could never have dreamed of doing, but movement, ultimately only has a meaning if you have a home to go back to. And home, in the end, is of course not just a place where you sleep, it’s the place where you stand.”

Oh, and I also really liked this description of the night sky:

“A great overturned saltshaker of stars”

Check the video out for yourself below: