The Nature of Home – I
Copyright 2009 – Christopher K. Travis
Originally published Sunday, July 14, 2009
Those who follow this blog know I run an architecture firm and an Internet technology startup at Truehome.net – both of which use a systematic approach to creating an “experience of feeling at home” for our clients and users. This series of posts asks the question “what is the nature of home?”
The “Common Sense” View of Home
At one level – everyone knows what “home” is. It’s where you live and how you feel while you live there. Most of us see it as the building we inhabit but also know we “feel at home.” We know we come from a “home town” and go “home” to visit our past. So we know home somehow involves emotional experiences associated with belonging, safety and personal claims to space or origin.
“Feeling at home” is something almost everyone wants to experience. In that way, home is a physical metaphor for the womb. But the truth is that many people do not feel “at home” in their habitations at all.
You don’t feel safe and comfortable where you live if your parents are abusing you; your marriage is on the rocks; your children are driving you crazy; you have medical, psychological or financial problems – or if the neighborhood in which you live is dangerous, unhealthy or unfitting.
So the “home” that is a building – and the “experience of feeling at home” – are two different things. One is a physical structure – bricks and sticks – and the other is a complicated suite of emotions that impact how you see that building and those who live with you.
Most of us relate to our homes as the former – a building we inhabit. We enter, sit on the couch and watch TV, or play with the kids, or try to get some rest at the end of a hard day at work – and simply don’t think about it. We don’t see “home” as a complex, interdependent, physical, emotional and psychological eco-system created more by how its inhabitants view reality that by it physical components. We think it is a building we are familiar with and “already know.”
But home is really in our perception – our view of reality. We all carry deeply ingrained historical views of reality – born in our past – about the nature of home. We predict our future experience by looking backwards – both consciously and unconsciously – at our past experience. Most of us are not present to this fact. We think we are rationally choosing our experience – but in reality – our “experience of home” is in our heads.
Home is like water to the fish…just a given. Life goes on. We view the reality we experience each day as a result of our circumstances – something outside us – rather than a result of our points of view. That is the “being of being human,” and it’s universal with all people in all cultures.
So even looking objectively at the “common sense” level, you can see that home is a very complicated subject – and one that is widely misunderstood.
These facts make it very hard to transform our “homes” into an environment that truly supports and inspires us – because remodeling an “experience of life” is much more complicated than remodeling a building.