“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”~Matsuo Bashō (born Matsuo Kinsaku [1644-1694], then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa, was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan)
“Home is where the heart is.” ~Pliny the Elder
These are two different impressions on the essence of home, clearly different, but in many ways closely related. Both apply equally to our upcoming international move to Okinawa, happening now in a period of time measured only in hours, instead of what used to be months, then weeks, and most recently days, which sometimes is more aptly referred to as “daze” (you now, for the double entendre).
The idea of the journey being so important is lost on most. A standard and central biker creed, something one learns quickly on a long-distance motorcycle trip, is exactly what Busho so elegantly states: it’s seldom about the destination, but always about the voyage. The point is, the journeys we take in life are precisely what life is made of, and such cognizance can lead to such a fuller, deeper, more rich life, the kind worth reflecting back upon.
But perhaps there is yet a more apropos characterization of home that fits me personally: “Home is not where you live, but where they understand you,” ~ Christian Morganstern.
When I fell for my wife Jody, the prettiest nurse in the Navy, I knew that more vagabond days may be in my future. In fact, I was probably and primarily the reason behind this imminent Far Eastern foray. Jody was all set to retire in Pensacola in 2014, but between the marvelous odds of making full Commander (and its associated massive spike in retirement pay), intersected with the idea that the government would pay (mostly and with much hassle) for what we would make to be an epic international adventure, we both decided that one last tour overseas was in order. Although we both initially wanted Europe as the station of her duty, Okinawa was what was finally successfully negotiated, happily so mind you.
Jody has not travel nearly as extensively as I, nor has she lived in Asia (and specifically) Okinawa as I have for four years previously. I find that Okinawa, as opposed to other places overseas I have lived, leaves an indelible mark on many peoples’ psyches, and for me personally – although I am positive my children would agree – Okinawa quickly became quite literally a second home. I feel I understand Okinawa, and I know that Jody understand me. These profound insights are what make my idea of “home” easily migratory back and forth across the great expanse of the Pacific.
A fellow Okinawan-centric blogger Okinawa Blue perhaps captures this idea most appropriately in the form of Japanese haiku:
Always in longing
for the other half of me
whether here or there
This, in my opinion, captures perfectly the dichotomy between longing for what you miss, and appreciating where you are. In the states, we live such easy, comfortable lives. And most Americans don’t realize the breadth of that statement, at least, not until they leave their homes…and homeland. Of course I will miss and even long for elements of America during my three years on Okinawa, but at the same time, in unison, I feel even more comfortable in some respects living in Okinawa as “home.” I hope that in blogging over the next three years that I’ll be able to capture just a few of the reasons why Okinawa became and remains so very special to me and many people that I know.
“Where thou art, that is home.” ~Emily Dickinson
But there is an even more important constituent of “home” that counts the most. That is, quite simply, what I told Jody early in our relationship: that my home is wherever Jody can be found. I knew that Jody would be re-posted, and had no illusions or compunction about following her across the globe. And I’m happy, if not in anxious anticipation, to be part of this grand adventure with her!
“Home is any four walls that enclose the right person.” ~Helen Rowland
Although our vehicles are put away, and we have temporarily divorced ourselves of our house in Pensacola (where renters move in Thursday), in the final analysis, for each of us, home is where we are as long as we are together. A house is a thing, and things inside of that house can make it warm, comfortable, and even inviting. But a house is not a home; home is in the heart, and my heart is with Jody, who will soon be in Okinawa….
Together we are ready to take on Okinawa. I just hope she falls in love with this most special of places as I have, and will too over time consider it a second home as much as I do.