And I wept. There haven’t been tears like this for more than ten years. . .
It was 2009 and my PhD about happiness was nearly complete, but a relationship had collapsed, I was on the verge of depression, and quitting my PhD felt scarily likely. I thought I needed to do something radical to get the joy and wonder back into life. And so, much to the concern of those that knew me, I left the flat I’d been living in for a couple of years, and went to live in a caravan that was a long way from anyone I knew.
I was in the caravan for just a few weeks, but so began a 6-month period of my life where I had nowhere I could call home. At least not concretely. It was a curious time. Rather than worry about whether I’d ever be lovable or whether anyone would care about my research, my life came to instead be dominated about worrying about where I might be staying in the next days, weeks, and months, as well as continuously be packing up my things to move on to yet another place. It was difficult, it was raw, but there was a simplicity to it – basic physical survival.
Somehow the PhD still got written. And somehow I got happier. Though I didn’t know I’d gotten so much happier until I sat in a bed I could finally call my own many months on and found myself with tears streaming down my face. It wasn’t sadness, it was a mix of relief, joy, and awe. I’d somehow gotten myself out of a very dark time in my life, and importantly I now had a place that I could call home.
Why go, when you can stay a while
It was from that experience that my sense of home began to evolve and over the years I have tested the limits of what a home can be in various ways – there was living in a tent whilst working at the University of Stirling in 2014 & 2015, and more recently roaming around the world on a bicycle exploring happiness with just a few worldly possessions.
This time it’s been nearly 3 years since I’ve had a concrete home around me. A place where I’m not thinking about what I’ll have to do when it comes time to leave. We all need something we can call home, but home is not necessarily a physical thing. Though it helps. For me it has come to mean a state of rest in a place where I am nourished. Where I feel safe and secure, and surrounded with love. Home is a feeling, a state of mind.
Sometimes I’ve felt that sense of home in a tent in the place that my bicycle and I happened to stop one evening. However, that’s not always been the case and there is often anxiety attached. Even if it is a perfect place then it often hasn’t been long before I’ve needed to move on again, and again, and again. All this moving gets tiring. But my appreciation of feeling really at home has grown.
None of this is to say I haven’t felt at home temporarily. As I’ve stayed for extended periods at various places throughout our current covid pandemic, testing the boundaries of what friends would ordinarily do for one another, I have had some peace. However, it does feel damn good, and worthy of all the tears that have since come, to finally have four concrete walls around me and to feel a warm sun streaming through the window and onto my face. There is no reason to move on from here. It feels so damn good. I can hardly get it into words.
Fuelling a home
The next step, I suppose, to building one’s life back and feeling safe is getting a job and contributing to the local community. I signed on for unemployment benefit for the first time in my life last week. They were quick to tell me I wasn’t eligible for benefits though. Hopefully I’ll find something soon so I can give a little more to society. I can see a few things on the horizon. Resources will dribble toward me eventually, I have faith.
And on that note, if you fancy helping out someone trying to watch the pennies AND want to do something good for the environment AND want to save yourself money too, then might I recommend you join Bulb. They supply gas and electricity in the UK and if you sign up for a supply via this link, then I’ll get £50 off my bills and you will get £50 off yours too. Their unit rates are extremely good too, and they’ll pay any exit fees from leaving another supplier. I calculated that all I need to do to benefit financially is get one person to sign up – you – and it will work out cheaper for me than any other supplier (including one’s that run on unsustainable fuels). When it comes to fuelling a home this is what we might think of as a no-brainer!!!
ps after a very shaky few months I am back to writing my book again and I now have a sign up page for updates – so if you want updates to the book then please do that here! Thank you and much love! Christopher.