How to define your home

Where is home? In an effort to eloquently define home, I took notes from the TED Talk of two talented writers, Pico Iyer and Taiye Selasi.

Iyer spoke about identifying “home” as work in progress, constantly adding new panels to the stained glass window.

He said that stepping out of our comfort zone and into the world will let you see what you most deeply care about and find a place to call home.

Selasi characterizes home as the place where you identify as a local. Since countries evolve, appear, disappear, contract and grow, the country you call home may resemble the constant, absolute country of your memory. That’s why we should think about home in terms of culture instead of country.

She sums it up beautifully as, “all experience is local, all identity is experience.”

Instead of asking people where they’re from, ask them where they are a local. The intention of the question shifts the focus from nationality to where real life occurs.

Even international competitions with national teams are composed of multinational players – where people are locals will depend on where they form rituals, relationships and restrictions.

The daily rituals are the coffees in the morning or wearing slippers at home instead of outdoor shoes. The rituals themselves say a lot about the culture you were raised in and the one you are in now.

The relationships are people who shape your weekly emotional experience, people who you speak to at least once a week through texting, video calls or meeting in person.

Finally, restrictions are the least lyrical and sexy of the three “R” test of locality.

Restriction may be a passport that bars you from entering the country you call home or political unrest that threatens the safety of you and your loved ones.

I would like to add another layer to answering the vague question, “where is home.”

Context matters.

Home in Waterloo is where I store my belongings, sleep most nights of the week and the only place I can fully unwind and relax.

When I’m in Ontario, home is Burnaby, a large city beside Vancouver in British Columbia where I spent the majority of my life. It’s also where my fuzzy and adorable German Shepherd named Max lives.

When I’m in British Columbia, home is Waterloo because it’s where I can pretend to be an independent adult.

With that said, the most important aspect about the concept of “home” is that you can choose where to call home.

With the exception of extreme cases that restrict access to certain people and places, home is where you create life experiences and develop lasting relationships.

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