“Being at home in the world” embodies a dialogue between inner and outer, self and world claims John Hill (2010) in his new book of the same name. Our psyche originated in nature but the increasing separation birthed by the growth of a culture that is dominated by reason and patriarchy, disconnect from earth and the deep sacredness of nature and creation is taking its toll. Reconnection with nature, and therefore something deep, numinous, and sacred is action that can help us recognize and care for what Hill calls the traumatized, stillborn parts of ourselves.
Modern day philsopher Martin Heidigger (1962) called our existence here uncanny, a word that means “to not be at home,” suggesting we are thrown here into this world against our will and spend most of our lives facing the consequences of that experience. Hill suggests that feeling at home is connected to the need we each hold to create shared meaningful experiences. Not just a loss of particular place, he insists, the pervasive sense of homelessness manifest in today’s world is about feeling uprooted and incapable of deeper attachment to people, place, or environment. The continuous act of encounter, analysis, and evaluation of “finding home” is a process that serves to protect the familiar and traditional while making space for psychological and cultural innovation. Jungian analyst and author Fred Gustafson says we are lonesome for the earth, knowing we are, in truth, more separate than we can possibly stand.
Author Philip Cushman *(1995) in Constructing the Self perceives that the individual in modern culture is an “empty self” that is driven by its felt sense of hollowness to fill itself up through increasing consumption of goods, services, technology, peak experiences, entertainment, celebrity and even psychotherapy. To alleviate the anxiety, depression, isolation, and suffering, psychosomatic disorders, or addiction, we turn to consumerism. We distract ourselves, stuffing ourselves into individual silos no longer linked to a larger web of creation. As a culture, a civilization even, we are also in danger of disappearing.
In the U.S and the rest of the modern world, our home as a sense of ourselves, our psyche, our place in the world is threatened; our sense of comfort has been and continues to be devastated on a regular basis by traumatic events in the culture we have created--though we often do our best to distract ourselves and repress the discomfort and sense of uncanniness we feel. Our narrative is one of loss and dislocation due to disregard and destruction, to not tending our place or being in conscious relationship with it. Emplacement, rooting us deeply in a sense of place and belonging, as defined by contemporary philosopher Edward Casey in Getting Back into Place (2009) requires a narrative. Clearly, emplacement is not something that happens overnight, nor by will alone.
It is my earnest hope, as yet another year draws to a close, that we will each allow some time for reverie, a time to reflect on the narrative which encompasses our life and our daily actions. Let us all, as the year winds to a close and we have the opportunity to reflect, take a few moments to understand how we fit in the world and how we might more organically integrate the parts of ourselves that resist into the greater whole. Let us breathe, and be more "at home in the world," finding and making meaning for ourselves and those around us.