I ask you: What’s the difference between “coming home” and “going home?” I’ve been twisting this around in my brain for awhile, the way one braids and re-braids tumbling locks without ever getting it quite right. For more normal people, this is a reason to just brush it out (or off) and go on with real life. But for people like me, it’s a reason to blog. The question in question arose because I realized that when I head to Hawai’i I feel like I am “coming home,” but when I head back to the Mainland, I feel like I am “going home.”  Hmmm…

Of course I understand the difference perfectly from a geographical perspective -- don't need a discourse from a PhD in English for that. When you are heading home and talking to a person who is not in that intended locale, you say, "Yeah, I'm at the airport drinking my extra hot vanilla latte and glad to be going home." But if fifteen minutes later, you call the person who is sitting right where you're headed, and say, "Yeah, I'm just about finished my vanilla latte" (no longer extra hot), "and glad to be coming home."'

But this isn't a geograhical question I've posed. It's a matter of the heart.
Over and over in my years of island gallivanting, I’ve heard it said about that first experience of Hawaii: “I felt like I’d come home.” No one ever says, “I felt like I’d gone home.” And yet, a few weeks later, they do “go home” to Brooklyn, Boston or Burbank, and may or may not ever return to the island that evoked such a profound state of heart. And it's also true that many, like my friend, Bentley Kalaway (who cashed in her return-trip plane ticket thirty years ago) never leave--never "go home" because they realize they are already home.

Having written that, a clue is emerging that unbeknownst to me, I planted in the first paragraph. I said, I feel like I’m "coming" home to Hawaii, but when I return to the Mainland, I feel like I am "going" home. It’s the word “feel” that is the reveal. I get it now.

In Hawaii, I have easy access to more of myself. I dream more, am more keenly attuned to nature, more available to my soul and my senses, more willing to take risks. It’s about coming home, not to a place, but to an expanded experience of who I am. Right now I’m thinking about Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who rocked the Ted Talks world with her account of what she calls her “stroke of insight” –the tale of a devastating stroke that woke her up to her true nature--and the nature of all of us humans. Ten years after the fact, and fully recovered, she speaks with heart-rending passion about how expansive she became as she hung between worlds--a vision that has never left her.

So without the stroke--and thus in a less dramatic and all-consuming way--I come home to that greater truth of myself while in the altered state of Hawaii. And when I go home, I am packing along as much of that expansiveness as my heart will hold, emboldened to infuse my days with it, to put it into palpable practice, and to live it in my work, my relationships, and my solitude. I go home steeped in the surging power of the Spirit of Aloha, knowing that one day, it will be be my home...regardless of where I am.

Do you "come home" to a place in this world that is outside your daily living? How does it expand your experience of who you are?

The Journey Is Always Better Together,