This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)


“Home is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home, she lifted up her wings
I guess that this must be the place”

Oof. I guess my last blog post really didn’t age well.

A little background because I’ve been pretty quiet since returning from a ten day silent meditation course two months ago. I have been in the process of applying to graduate programs for school psychology.  After looking at the list of nationally certified programs, my wife and I came up with seven schools that would be viable for us.

New Jersey City University (NJCU) solidified itself as the top spot, especially when I found out upon returning from the course that she had secured a job on this side of the Hudson River, making her commute much more tolerable. The NJCU campus is a short walk from our apartment, and this would allow us to stay in the only state we have both ever lived in.

The month of February has been extremely hectic for me, marked with a lot of travel. I was in Florida for the Miami Marathon (which now come to think of it, I totally forgot to write a “‘Twas the Night Before Race Day” post – oh well!). There, I had a Skype interview with a university. I flew to Denver for another interview. And next week, I’ll be in Arizona for another – my first time in the southwest.

But on Saturday, I came back after spending a few days in Salt Lake City – visiting and interviewing for the University of Utah. It was one of the first schools I applied to, but I was hesitant. It was for their PhD program. They had a strict GPA cutoff. Sure, I had a 4.0 GPA during my first go at grad school, but my undergrad career was a travesty. There was no way they were going to accept me – was I just wasting the application fee?

I killed the interview. I got along with every faculty member. And practically every applicant I talked to. I fell in love with the program, the campus, the school. And then later – after spending some time in it – the city. Nestled in the Wasatch Mountains, the city and the school checked just about every box that my wife and I laid out.

  • Close to mountains
  • Affordable cost of living
  • Easy access to public transportation
  • Close to a city center
  • Moderate climate
  • Great trail running/outdoors scene
  • Funding for school
  • Great faculty
  • A hub for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (…kidding)

This isn’t even taking into account that they are considering me for a PhD. Which is still mind-boggling to me. There’s just one problem.

We would have to move away from Jersey City.

I was thinking about this a lot during my time in Salt Lake City. And in the time that I’ve been back. As I watched “Dunkirk” on the flight back. As we enjoyed ourselves at a Russian banya on Sunday for my 32nd birthday. As we sat in our living room trying – in vain – to talk sense into deluded family members. As we pondered laying awake at night how such a paradise can also be such a hell sometimes.

This is what I came up with.

In the same vein that my meditation practice has deconstructed the illusion of the self or ego, the concept of “home” also follows the same rules. And it might be a better jumping off point for people trying to understand the idea of non-self or non-dualism.

What is home? The walls that surround me – is this home? What if I was to take a bandsaw and cut out a piece of the wall? Is this piece of the wall part of home? What about the hole in the wall? Our mementos and trinkets that adorn our places and act as avatars for our memories – is this home? The memories themselves – is this home? We can see the logical fallacy of applying any sort of notion of “home” into any of these things.

My wife and cats. Surely this is home. But then what if they get sick? And die? Am I suddenly homeless? People or things can’t be home. Of course, they can be a part of it, but their existence is not intrinsic to the idea of “home.” Unfortunately, “people” is where a lot of people’s definition of home ends. Which makes it much harder for them to move on when tragedy strikes.

Feeling then. Certainly feeling and emotion is directly tied to home. Home is a feeling. And this is the conclusion that most learned people get to. Home is a feeling.

But what I’ve learned is that this is transient. After all, all things change. There is nothing that remains static. Including this feeling of home. Your home has the same capacity to be your salvation and your torment. And will oftentimes change, without warning.

So what is home? Home is not your things – your walls, your refrigerator, your Nintendo, your books, your bed. Even each of these things is made up of parts, and these parts do not constitute your home. It’s not your loved ones – the people that you live with. Or your pets. Or your neighbors and the people you run into on your daily walks or trips to the corner store. It is not the feeling you get from being home, because this feeling is ephemeral. You can get this feeling from watching a Disney movie on your couch with your wife or from eating dinner at a chain restaurant with your brother and mom or from stepping onto a college campus that – for some reason – triggers the biological mechanisms that produce the effect in your body that masks as this feeling of “home.” A truly learned person knows that even the feeling of home is an illusion.

There is something that lies past what we can perceive with our senses. It is a place of pure stillness. Of pure peace. We are all shepherds to it. It is our job to tend to this flock. To protect it. To honor it. Home is not any one thing. It is everything. And it is nothing at all. By defining it, we limit it. By allowing people to affect it, we lose touch with it. We get further and further from it.

Home is love. Home is peace. Home is truth.

Salt Lake City. Jersey City. Las Vegas. Phoenix. Philadelphia. San Antonio. Denver. It’s all the same to me.


1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. LOL! you totally got me on the latter day saints!

    Never been to SLC but it sounds great.
    I wish you much success at whichever school is lucky enough to get you.

    Just give me a heads up if you plan to leave town!


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