I've done many paintings of many houses. The very large painting above (120cm x 80 cm) hung above the king sized bed in the double room of our inn since 2007. It depicted for me a certain depth and a question:
What is home?
Sometimes, I feel like my life purpose is to find an answer to this question. I have moved literally dozens of times through three countries, each move filled with the internal promise that the new place would be the place for me to call home. Inside, I know that my home is with myself and my partner and the external surroundings don't formulate the true essence of the word.
Still, I searched. I searched for a place.
I went to Italy fully intending, fully expecting, to find home there, in the deepest sense of the word. What I found instead was something much more puzzling. We made a home for others - in the form of an inn that so many came and sunk into in the most comfortable of ways. We gave people home away from home. In the best and most complete sense, I used my yearning to give others what I didn't seem able to give myself.
My creativity in Italy fought hand and hand with my fatigue and exhaustion of bringing ancient structures back to life. We were challenged on every front - trying to make an existence for ourselves out of rocks and plaster. And in that effort, trying to find what it was that we truly needed to feel content and to be able to have that sense of belonging.
I did paintings of houses, I made pots, I cooked and cleaned and ironed gorgeous linens, all in the effort to bring a sense of home to the inn. The irony that I myself was too exhausted by the process, to injured by the challenge, and too scared of failing to ever feel at home there was not lost on me.
For all these reasons and so many more, Italy never truly felt like the place I could call home in the deepest sense. But Italy gave me something that I never would have had without the experience of doing what we did there. Italy showed me, in clear and uncertain terms, what I needed to do to come home to myself. Here are just a few:
...to put our own sense of well being in front of that of others in order to create a sustainable creative lifestyle.
...to understand that energy is a finite resource and cannot be shattered by a thousand different top priorities.
...to stretch in a way that opens up energy instead of a way that continuously depletes it.
These blessed lessons are true gifts that I don't think I ever could have accepted had we not put ourselves on the line so completely in Italy. Now I can look at the beauty of Italy and see the country for what it really is: a deep pool of passionate energy from which our entire Western culture emerged - with all of the confusion and fear and love and color that goes along with being that pool. I love Italy more now for what it truly is than what I thought it was before moving there.
Those lessons allowed us to move forward. The moment I saw the home in Germany that we live in now, I knew that all the pain and fear and exhaustion and hard, hard work had been done to lead me to this beautiful place. It was an immediate recognition. It was as if someone- an angel, the learned masters, God, or maybe all of them together - were saying here. You know this place. This is your place. You can go on from here and take all of your lessons and move on.
I live in the country side, near the Black Forest, near the Alps, near a small stream in an old exposed-timber house that has embraced us in a way we never felt before. I say thanks every day for this place. Without Italy, I never would have found this - or even if I had found it, I never would have recognized it for what it is. It's our place. It's home. The one I've been searching for my entire life. How ever long we are given to live in this place together, I am eternally forever grateful to have had it even for just one day.
Which brings me back to my painting. When we brought the painting from Italy to Germany, it occurred to me that it was unfinished. This had never been apparent to me before. And I knew what needed to be done to finish it.
So tell me, what is your sense of home and where does it come from?
If you are interested in moving forward with your own creative work in 2015, I have a special offer both on individual sessions and mentoring programs to get you started.