Day 188: Pico Iyer- Where is home?

So what do you answer when people ask where you’re from?
Do you reply based on your ethnicity, or where you were born. Maybe it’s where you pay your taxes and dentist bills, or which place goes deepest inside you .
Go to Hong Kong, Sydney And Vancouver and most people are more international than ever before. 220 million people live in countries not their own; this is representative of the fifth largest nation on earth. The average resident in Toronto is a foreigner. A girl living in Australia may have been born in the U.K. to a Thai father and a French mother, while her boyfriend, who was born in Ireland, has parents from Canada and Brazil. With cases like this becoming increasingly commonplace, home now is more of an ongoing project to achieve perfection.
Years ago Pico Iyer’s home in California was burnt to the ground. All he had in the world was a toothbrush he’d just bought. He couldn’t point to any physical place as his home so his home had to be whatever he carried inside him. When his grandparents were born, they had their sense of community, society and even enmity assigned to them already.
There are many advantages to the new system of internationality. Being surrounded by foreigners makes it difficult to take anything for granted. Travel is like being in love.
Yet it’s often only by stopping movement that you can see where to go; get out of your life and the world and you can see what your home is. Movement is a fantastic privilege but only has a meaning if you have a home to go back to. Iyer details his own stay in a monastery as an instrumental time in his own development. Being alone with his thoughts and nothing to do allowed him to re- evaluate. While he doesn’t recommend this to everybody, his conclusion is a useful motto. ‘Home is not only the place where you sleep, but the place where you stand.’


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