Saturday, 2 March 2013

No place like home

There's a Welsh word "cynefin" that means (among other things) the place where you feel you belong or feel most connected.

Some people are lucky enough to find such a place, settle down there and be very happy. Others such as myself never find it. We end up in all sorts of places and either dislike them or at best find them acceptable. We never see them as the place we're meant to be, our spiritual home, our psychic echo.

I've only ever lived in London and Belfast, and neither of those are my cynefin. They're very hospitable cities, with many attractions, but they don't have that tug, that irresistibility, that would call to my soul. I've been to many cities around the world, but none of those have the magic quality either.

I started to think, what is it that makes a place your own place, your cynefin?

1) You have to like it physically - its buildings and scenery.
2) You have to like the people and the way they live their lives.
3) You have to like the pace of life.
4) You have to like the general ambience.
5) You have to feel safe and secure.
6) You have to feel at ease, comfortable, welcome.

If any of these things are lacking, you won't feel you belong. You'll feel a sense of detachment and apartness. You'll feel like a visitor, not a resident. You'll feel you're just passing through.

But I think some people don't even realise what they're missing. It never occurs to them there's somewhere that's truly home and not just an accidental halt. They make do with what they've got, as if that's all they can expect. But it isn't. Home should be where the heart is.

17 comments:

Bijoux said...

I think number 2 is a big one. I've known friends who have moved to other parts of the country, for jobs and better climates, but they've never felt at home because of the people. There are definitely different attitudes and ways of life that make it hard to acclimate yourself to.

Nick said...

Bijoux: It's a very big factor. There are many people here who even at the height of the Troubles never moved away because they liked the Northern Irish people. And a lot of emigrants return from Australia because they miss the Brits.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I definitely don't feel connected to the place i live now. I love the area - it's truly beautiful here and the weather is great - but not the general world view. Too conservative, too religious, too judgmental, too xenophobic. I don't mean that I don't like peole, because I do. In many ways it's a friendly place and people are helpful I just don't find an abundance of like-minded folks.

Ursula said...

You are right, Nick: Home is where the heart is. And because my heart generally is where I am I always feel at home. Always. Though admittedly, I do hope that my heart will refuse to move to the moon should the need ever arise.

U

e said...

I agree with the previous comments. I've adjusted to where I live, but find it hard in terms of like-mindedness. I hope you find your "true" home one day.

Nick said...

Agent: I think that's often the case. I also live in a beautiful place but feel I have little in common with most of the locals, for much the same reasons as you mention. A bit of a square peg in a round hole I think.

Ursula: I envy that ability to be at home wherever you are. Jenny's a bit like that as well. But I don't think there'll be any mass migration to the moon any time yet.

Nick said...

e: At my age, I don't think there's much time left to find my true home. But you never know.

Jenny Woolf said...

I'm lucky that i feel at home in London, and always have, and also that I have the opportunity to live somewhere nice in London. I doubt I'd be so keen if I was in a council flat in Thamesmead.

Jenny Woolf said...

PS although of course you never know. Proximity to the centre is important to me. It cheers me up to be among all these people who are geting on with what are often exciting and interesting lives.

Nick said...

Jenny: Indeed, a council flat in Thamesmead would be hard to see as "home" (Thamesmead - district of South East London consisting mainly of hideous social housing). But who knows? There are probably Thamesmead families who're madly in love with the place....

Grannymar said...

I am happy in my skin, so home is where I lay my head. I did talk to Elly some years ago about her feelings if I chose to sell up and move away. "Mum, wherever you are, will be home to me!" was her answer.

I am not sure there is a perfect place, each has a drawback of some kind. An ideal setting with a lovely view, may not be so wonderful if you run out of bread or milk and need to travel a long distance to buy it. Living close to all amenities, can mean putting up with people everywhere.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

I've always thought 'home is where the heart is' meant that you can feel at home wherever your loved ones are. I think this is true for some people, but there are others who need that connection with a physical place, like you.

It can be a tragedy when a person has to live their life in a situation (whether emotional or physical) which is not congenial, that I do know.

Nick said...

Grannymar: "I am happy in my skin, so home is where I lay my head." That's good to hear. But I'm not thinking of a perfect place (is there such a thing?), more a place where you feel you belong. It may be far from perfect but nonetheless you feel at home there.

Jay: Yes, I guess it has that meaning too. And for some people that's true, their physical surroundings are fairly unimportant. But a constant sense of disconnection is troubling, as you say.

Rummuser said...

When we lived in Mumbai in the eighties, then known as Bombay, we used to drive through Poona, now known as Pune, on our way to my late wife's home town. We fell in love with Pune and decided that we would retire here. We did and for both of us and our son it has been our cynefin. I miss my wife's presence, but would still not like to live anywhere else. Yes this is where my heart is.

Nick said...

Ramana: I'm very glad you found your cynefin. Isn't it mysterious how a place can just get under your skin like that?

John Gray said...

I think you have to work on developing your cynefin
And therefore it's a bit of a positive thinking cycle
Want not belong and invariably you will belong

Nick said...

John: You have to work on it? I thought it was more an instinctive, gut-feeling kind of thing. But I guess you can also grow to love a place you were originally indifferent to.