Symbolism of Home #3: My Journey Home, Both Inner and Outer
As we saw in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, “Home” has huge importance for our well-being; just as important is the symbol of “my journey home”.
The Image of the Journey Home
The story of the hero who struggles with a mighty intensity to find his or her way back home represents a profound psychological dynamic, and has deep roots in human mythology. Examples of such homeward bound heroes are as diverse as Ulysses in Homer’s Odyssey, Dorothy in L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz and Riley in Disney’s movie Inside Out. As film scholar Susan MacKay-Kallis tells us, the hero’s journey
…does not not involve simply the discovery of some boon or Holy Grail, it also involves finding him- or herself, which ultimately means finding a home in the universe.
This crucial connection between finding oneself and finding a home in the universe, is a perennial, archetypal theme in human storytelling. For instance, the power of the Odyssey, the ancient story of Ulysses’ heroic strivings to find a way home is in our identification with his struggle: his story is the story of my journey home.
As in the case of Ulysses in the odyssey, the struggle to get home — or even to remember that my goal is to get home — is difficult, challenging and, at times even desperate. And so, the hero who arrives back on the doorstep of home is not the person who started on the journey. To get home, she or he has had to change. In the famous words of T.S. Eliot,
We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
My Journey Home – Outer
My journey home may involve encounter with my physical home — my actual, outer bricks and mortar house. Often, the energy that people put into their home is an expression of their desire for grounding and security in the world. Work on gardens or renovations, repair or painting may very well help to satisfy the deep need for safe and secure attachment to place. This may particularly be true for those in mid-life transition or the second half of life, when a person may find her- or himself reviewing the course of life up to the present time, and reflecting on how they got to where they are.
A person may feel similarly drawn to explore the meaning of home by returning to a family home where the individual grew up, or perhaps spent a particularly important part of his or her life. This may evoke an earlier time of connection and security, or it may be that the individual is returning to some aspect of “unfinished business” from an earlier stage in life.
My Journey Home – Inner
The inner journey toward home connects with the outer journey, but has its own particular character. It’s concerned with coming to understand and to be compassionate towards our own inner being.
The inner journey home often involves issues or difficulties in our present day lives, that beckon us to look at aspects of our life in the past. We may encounter the symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, or find ourselves coming up against parts of our personality shaped by wounds sustained in earlier parts of our life. Questions of identity and past wounding may get stirred up by a major life transition.
When we begin to understand, acknowledge and process how our past experience has shaped us, we come to a place of increasing acceptance and compassion for ourselves. This is connected with what is often referred to as “feeling at home in our own skin”, — another way of imaging the journey home.
Support for My Journey Home
Depth case studies involves discovering and coming to terms with who we fundamentally are. There are many images in human art, literature and mythology of this process, and one of the most powerful is the image of the journey home. This is profoundly connected with the journey toward wholeness.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst