Heart and Home: An Internal Affair

Everyone is likely familiar with the time honored cliché Home is where the heart is. My understanding of that comforting aphorism allowed home to have the priority in my thinking, inverting the sequence by putting the heart into a tangible residence.

Home for me was a place, a house with a yard and a neighborhood full of friends; all of which provided the safety and security I associate with a happy childhood. I grew up there with the assurance that I was loved and would be provided for in terms of food, clothing and shelter. Home was where my heart resided as a consequence of all these good things, with the outside world providing an increasingly less friendly alternative the further away I wandered from the boundaries of my affection.

The home of my youth is the one I tried to replicate for my wife and children, with the assumption that their hearts would find their comfort in another well-worn phrase, a sense of place. For the heart to be at peace, in my understanding of well-being, a physical location was essential. Having an address, a means of providing directions to others that one desired for companionship as house guests of any duration, was foundational for providing a home where the heart abides. But with age and an uncompromising change in personal circumstances, my perception of this sentiment has undergone its own radical transformation.

I no longer have a home. What I mean is that I am no longer the owner of a place where food and shelter are prominent features of all that I have worked for in providing for those who share my name and – for a time – my aspirations for us together as a family. Now everyone is grown and gone, having attained their independence. This left the need for a physical property with little of value beyond the financial return on investment to be gained from maintaining a property in a marketable location. And so I sold what became an antiquated asset, leaving me a guest of indeterminate duration elsewhere.

Heart has now taken pride of place in my thinking. Home and all its salient features is where I am, my heart defining value in a world that cannot be purchased by paper currency and coin, or plastic either, for that matter. Observing this reversion from things past to a more appropriate understanding of the affair between heart and home, I am left with the conclusion that I had the sequence wrong all along. Heart always defined home, not the other way around. The tangible entity was just that; walls, roof, windows, lights and their furnishings. What mattered most was metaphysical not solidly physical; spiritual, not temporal.

I can now more correctly say that Solomon had it right when counseling his own children about the heart’s supremacy: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

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