Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Home... is in your chest
The boys were listening to Dr Horrible's Sing-a-long, which includes a song by the typical noxious super-hero about the homeless - Problem neatly solved because 'Home is where the heart is, so your home is inside your chest'... which of course immediately had me thinking human snail thoughts. It's not always easy being a science fiction writer with an over-active imagination. Imagine how much worse it is for my dear family! It got me thinking about a few comments on Baen's Bar (my US publisher's forum, where I echo these posts)about this lot.
Yeah. We've been frightened. It's a long step into the unknown, leaving our comfort zone, our old home where we owned outright the house Murphy built (with 15 roof pitches and a sinstral spiral design) in an area of South Africa famous for its beauty, with our own stream and fruit trees and some acres, our safety net of friends and family far behind. There were no paths trodden by other migrants to do what we had done - how I earn my living, the visa we got, and where we have chosen to live are all new ground that we could ask no-one else about. Taking our dogs and cats most people reckoned as close to financial insanity. Deciding to stay would have been far less effort, and cheaper and much, much simpler.
I'm glad we did it. It was anything but easy, but I've never been good at doing the easy or taking the path everyone else travels just because they have. Yet, it's actually not that different or that unique. Humans have done just this... well, since the human race existed. Humans move, explore adapt to their environment, and adapt the evironment to themselves, just like termites build termite mounds. It's what we are. We're intelligent enough to start trying to minimise our damage and do some custodian work... but we always do move, explore, find new things to eat and places and ways to live. The culture I come from - which has more in common with that of the US, Australia, Canada or New Zealand than the 'source countries' in Europe would find Flinders, and what we are doing, very like going back 50 years or more... in all the good aspects too. Community. Yeah, gossip and all the other small place things... but the support too. We know our neighbors. People drop in (and we've only been here 5 months). Yet we have good medicine available and good internet access.
And you can make home anywhere you can take your heart. We have our rock, our piece of an African frontier farm -- proof that it can be done. It's only one stone toward building a new home of own, and not just a rented place (which still is a big improvement on the tent or caravan we thought we'd be in), but it's a start. A root, if you like, that we grow from. Soon the dogs and cats will be here. There are days and events which will still be bleak. Unlike 'refugees' who get humanitarian visas there are no free rides for us. We're not bludgers, we don't expect them. Rock, dogs, cats, our boys and most especially Barbs... I can handle it. And although I am less than sure about eating sea-weed, enjoy a lot of it.
Flinders Island might have been a long way to come to plant that root, but I believe it's good soil for it. I think if I had listened to the voice of reason and left the dogs and cats... we might have had more of a financial security blanket, but I would not have been me, and I would have struggled to come to terms with myself. I'd rather be poor and feel at peace with that aspect of my concience anyway.
The island has had its share of sadness and hardship. Shipwrecks, brutality and heartbreak. But it has also been a refuge, beautiful, lonely and quiet, yet friendly and warm, a balm for the soul, and place that has been much loved. You can feel that here.