Monday, January 12, 2009

Home, and Homeless

Home is the place where we wake and sleep, the place in which we wash, dress, eat, drink, and rest, the place in which we reflect and imagine, and it is more: the place in which we find acceptance, foundation, support. It cannot be home without acceptance. Sometimes acceptance comes only through pretense: we pretend to a personality and purpose we do not share and are accepted; but false acceptance cannot be depended on--it is not for us, it is for what we are pretending to be, it is for our lie. Acceptance without truth leaves one homeless. Homeless people are forced back upon their own resources, whether those resources are many or few--and, too often, they despair and rage against the isolation and poverty and the quite limited kindness of strangers. Acceptance without truth leaves one homeless. If you do not feel connected to society through traditional, or conventional, relationships, art can become a connecting thing. Human secrets are better kept, and more eloquently and wisely revealed, by art than by anyone or anything else: and it may be that the only real secrets are the exact nature and dimensions of the individual human spirit. Art feeds the imagination, the spirit, and the mind. However, in a permissive public society, a society of crudity and vulgarity, a society in which standards and values hardly seem to matter, a society in which every indulgence seems possible, the impact of the symbolic freedoms that art embodies can seem, or even be, without importance. One can feel caught between private discouragements that wound and public permissions that fail to empower. I have thought of home as a place to be found in the future rather than as a place remembered from the past or enjoyed in the present: and, as a state of being; and yet, when I have thought of a particular place as home, it has been New York I have thought of, for the cultural diversity and personal freedom it offers, for the bookstores and theaters and galleries and museums and other enclaves and streets, rather than Louisiana, the state in which I was born; and, of course, the arts have been a nearly endless resource for encouragement and spiritual renewal.