Sunday, March 6, 2011

A House Is Not A Home

What makes a house a home? What renders some buildings magnificent, and others shabby? Why is it that we react to different spaces in different ways?

We find that wherever we go, we react differently. In cathedrals we are awed, the Gothic designs bearing down on us lightly and heavily at the same time. The arches show us to heaven, but the sandstone grounds us on this earth. The majestic spaces fill us with longing, but beside the gigantic columns and the ornate stonemasonry, we are humbled, and the paradoxical yearnings struggling within ourselves come to a compromise, and this we call spirituality.

And then there are moments, out beneath the dome of the sky where we experience a similar awe to the one that held us captivated in the cathedral. It is similar, and yet, so different; where the cathedral kept us in quiet appreciation, the outdoors makes us want to cry out in euphoria. There, watching the sunset burn the sky a thousand different colours that make our breath catch and our eyes widen to etch them into our memory, we feel that we are infinite. In those moments, we can see eternity stretching out before us in one long, beautiful sunset that never fades, and always brings passion and tranquillity to our lives.

But those spaces that are so overlooked are the ones which mean barely anything to someone else. They are those places where we feel most at home, relaxed and comfortable. A home is more than just a house, more than the furniture, more than the colour of the walls, more than the books on the shelf. A home is a reflection of ourselves; somewhere where everything is where we want it to be, where everything looks the way we want it to and where everything smells just the way it ought. For someone to truly understand you, they must only need to look at the personal space you've created for yourself in the world - whether it be a room in a house, an area in an office, a house in a city, an apartment in a building. That space is yours and yours alone; it is personal, it is private, and it is where you go to lay your head to rest after a tiring day.

We are stirred to fiery anger when someone tries to access that space without our permission, or when they try to change it, rearrange it. We are driven to irrationality, to deep ire, and we shout and become increasingly upset the more the space is changed. For once someone begins to alter what we have created, it loses the meaning it once had; it is no longer personal, and the connection of familiarity and comfort is shattered. You don't know where things are, you don't like the colour of the furniture, nor the smell that it gives off, the fragrance of its wood different from the fragrance of your wood. The room loses its personality; you do not become the space, and it looks strange with you in it. You cannot look at it with affection and pride, you sulk and look at the colour of the walls dejectedly, remembering what it was like before. The space loses the essence of you. And you lose your home. You lose a friend. You lose yourself.

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