There's an exercise you can do when you feel confused or lost or indecisive. You imagine the place where you feel confident, located, clear. You just close your eyes, breathe calmly, and let the image of that clear, wonderful place come to mind. It's the place where you are happy, the place where you feel calm. This is the place where you believe you are meant to be, your center.
I wonder why it is that the place I imagine is never "home."
I picture beaches and sun when it rains or lovely gardens with cool breezes when it's hot, but I never imagine being home. I see myself getting on a plane or passing through turnstiles on my way to board a train, strangers moving quickly ahead of me. I see myself sitting in front of a Gothic cathedral, sipping coffee, gazing at the facade and watching pilgrims come and go, most of them not even looking up.
Sometimes, I do this on a crowded bus, just to see what is the first thing that comes to mind. I'm on the edge of a pier, looking out over the water to sailboats glistening in the distance. Or I'm in a library, surrounded by books and silence. When I come around, I'm still on the bus, but now I am curious that if I am in fact, in that moment, on my way home, why is it I am not projecting toward the moment I open the door? Wouldn't that be the one object of desire on that bus?
I have a lovely home, filled with people I love, people who love me, and if I complained even once, I would surely go straight to Hell. But there is an interesting disconnect between my path home and my imaginary place of calm, of peace, of stillness and happiness.
Most of it has to do with daydreams being about places I don't know or haven't seen, like India. I don't know many beaches so when I imagine the hammock and the umbrella drinks, it's from ads for beach vacations, not experience. There are times when I imagine being completely happy in Paris or Madrid, two cities I know fairly well. I'd be at one of my favorite haunts with time on my hands and cash in my backpack. I could be hiking through fields and forests and farms. I just don't dream of going home, not to my parents' house where I grew up, not to the first apartment I had when I got married, and not to the place I live now.
I can't give up the exercise because it is so revealing. But I think I might start taking notes to see if I can find a pattern – do I center on more beaches than towns, more hiking than sitting?
And, unlike a lot of people, if I really can’t find my center, I can always move. It's the cheater's way out, but I might just do that. Spain is nice.
Aunt Em had just come out of the house to water the cabbages when she looked up and saw Dorothy running toward her.
"My darling child!" she cried, folding the little girl in her arms and covering her face with kisses. "Where in the world did you come from?"
"From the Land of Oz," said Dorothy gravely. "And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!"
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
Posted previously on Open Salon