Home (Where is it now?)

Dad and I at Mt Warning National Park

My brother Murray (left) Cam, Kris and I at Suncorp Stadium last Friday

That Peter Allen song, ‘I Still Call Australia Home’, often popped into my head whenever I was having a cultural or language lost moment somewhere in the middle of Europe. The words almost like the threads on a security blanket to cover my perceived insecurity or feeling of marginalisation.  A reassurance that when I walk out of that 747 onto the tarmac at Brisbane airport at some point in the future, that everything that happens to me when I am living in a foreign land, no matter how traumatic and confusing, will be written into my history and only used as a recall point to moot other unfortunate antipodeans at social gatherings. You know, something really significant like ‘You think that was bad. At Mt Vesuvius in 2010, the mafia made us pay ten euros just to take a photo of the toilets!’

Since last Sunday I have been struggling to write a blog about being back in our home town here in Australia. Jo and I have lived together the village of Maleny for eleven years and I have been here a few back beyond that. I’ve written, re-written, scratched out, changed the title of the piece but for the first time in twelve months I’ve not been happy with whatever the result has been. It is not that all my human senses haven’t been engaged here. We’ve had a multitude of family and old friends to visit and communicate with. Add to that familiar food and beverages and landscapes to wander through that we have both always found to be invigorating for creativity and I should be gurgling print and pictures onto the page . There has also been a sprinkling of new folk that have found their way into our daily travels, still the ink won’t stick.
To try and understand what might be blocking me in completing what is a usually an inspired occupation I stepped back for a moment to see where I was standing. A dictionary meaning of home says things like ‘the place where one lives permanently’ or ‘a place where something flourishes’. From a spiritual perspective Mary Baker Eddy says that ‘Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections.’ The thing about home that I have identified most with this week is a line from from the Neil Diamond song ‘I Am ... I Said’. It goes something like ‘ LA’s fine but it ain’t home, New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more.’ The more I think about the above ideas concerning home the more I understand why I am feeling the way I do. A feeling much like I had in those first few months of trying to GPS my way around the minefields of life along the shore of Lac Leman.
What is now clear to me is that we are living, working and playing in Lausanne. Our contribution to the world at large is sent out by what we are involved in there, not by being here. Despite the cultural and language barriers we encounter in Switzerland (that I must add have lessened and most days even go un-noticed), we participate physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually through our activities in Lausanne not Maleny. In actual fact we are at present visitors here on a holiday but in the true sense here is not our home. Buildings are only houses if you don’t live in them. This area of Australia is the home of our family and friends, they live, work and relate here, and our home is currently Pully (Lausanne.)  
Jo and I have spent the last three weeks visiting family, friends and places in nature that we always associate with our sense of home. We’ve walked beaches, national parks and the hills near the house we own here in Witta. It has been great to catch up with everyone and see them in the flesh, to hear what they are up to and just be around them. For Jo the downtime has been awesome. She looks and feels relaxed. On top of that we have managed to chomp our way through some of the essential food groups that we have craved from afar and I can say that already I most probably can survive another twelve months without them (Maybe not the Tim Tams). To sit in cafes in Maleny village and watch life unfold around has not been without it’s rewards. From where we’ve spent a few hours on the red leather lounge at the KInd Living Cafe, sipping Puro coffee or warm nut milk, life here in the village looks simple and nurturing. The people that surround us so warm and welcoming, much like the prevailing winter weather. But essentially we are visitors, filling in our time between two long distance flights with the pleasure of sharing moments with those we love and exploring pages with our fingers, grains of sand with our toes and opening the limited spaces between our ears up to the ever expending universe that lies beyond it. 

Jo in the Good Living Cafe - Maleny

Skye's cool coffee

Last night I lay awake thinking about my father and his present lifestyle of twenty four hour care in a nursing home facility. I wondered what I could do to make that time better for him. All that I could come up with was to know the Truth about him. The stories and experiences he has already shared with me since I was a young boy  have all been an expression of this thread called Life and will remain the same no matter what his present circumstances are. I also thought about the time I had spent with my two sons on Friday night at the Broncos vs. Titans game and on Saturday hanging out together in Brisbane. It was very clear to me how much fun that sense of family (home) we have is when we get together even though our lives are now so busy and set thousands of miles apart. And for just a moment I was reminded of that Harry Chapin song about home called ‘Cats in the Cradle’. A feeling of uneasiness poked it’s unwanted head into the darkness. Then Jo snuggled into me and it was gone.

Our Maleny hideaway thanks to Roger and Allison. Pretty yum huh?


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