Crossing paths

   “People or birds, migrating is all about home.The quest for it, changing it, making it.”
In Ruth Padel’s book she blends poetry and prose to tell a story. This story crosses oceans, flies through the air at great heights, swims through seas, follow the magnetic pulls of the earth, and leaves no animal behind.
What does it mean to have an origin or identity? This question can be applied to you and me but also to the creatures we share this planet with. Padel draws lines and webs that show the reader just how close we all are to each other and how these lines intersect with each others homes.

Home is a place that we return to, a place that we create, a place that we yearn for. In JRR Tolkien’s epic tale, The Hobbit,  he tells the story of a company of dwarves, forced to evacuate their homeland at the cruel greedy hand of a dragon, return after an incredible journey. They laid their lives on the line just to return home. This is done in so many stories and it demonstrates the human, and animal instinct to not only create and be home but to protect it at all costs. Birds,  the animals of the great migrations in Africa, sea creatures, and humans make huge movements to find home. Maya Angelou wrote, “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maybe all of us are pulled by the magnetic force that drives the birds, maybe we are following the sun so that we can never see it set. So we are never in the dark and never in doubt.
Transport yourself to London, walk in the gardens with me at and notice the flowers, are they native to this dirt or are they beauty brought from another land to share their brightness in the english soil? Maybe seeds migrated here, blown by the wind or carried by a bird making a similar journey. Or maybe they were picked up by an admiring human for the sole purpose of adding beauty to their yard.

Migration takes many different forms but the outcome of almost all migrations is a change and a new start. Padel writes, “Migration means leaving things behind. It moves you into a disoriented world which doesn’t add up in the way you are used to. You have to start putting things together in a new order.” You have to create or find a space that has the qualities that are essential to life. Migration strips down wants and leaves you with needs. From their, it is up the to individual to create a home.
People and animals migrate for reasons. Sometimes it is a need for change spurred by a discontent in the heart. Sometimes it is from oppression; the destination is a new chance for freedom. Sometimes migration is yearly, bi-yearly, for food and water and comfort. No matter what, migration causes change and forces the meaning of home into question.

We, as humans, share the oceans, the air, the dirt of the earth with our neighbors. These neighbors consist of bears, cattle, horses, whales, birds, giraffes, lions, snakes, worms, and much much more. This planet is meant for sharing. As Padel writes in her poem, Sharing Spaces, “The night before 9/11 a million Swainson’s thrushes must have flown over the towers. Their road songs have been recorded other years on just that date in the skies over Manhattan.” Powerful words for a world that sometimes needs to remember that we share a beautiful, green planet with others.


1 thought on “Crossing paths

  1. Hello Kate, you beautiful, beautiful being. This was a fabulous post with many great points and questions you raised about what is home and how we construct it. I found that we come to speak of home almost as a sense of mapping ourselves permanently on this place, like those ‘you are here’ signs that you see in the mall. That golden star is always set over the place that we consider to be home. After going away to college, moving six times in my life, and staying in places for brief amounts of time (like London or any longer vacation I have been on), I have realized that home is equally as fluent as the self appears to be. At first, I associated home with a sense of tradition, the place where I resided for the majority of my life as I grew up, and essentially the place that came to have the greatest impact on who I am. However, I have now realized that I have no idea which ‘home’ I spent the most time in, or which one had the most impact on me, for even spaces that I spent small amounts of time in had large impacts on me. After this course and considering how I categorize the spaces I occupy and how I chose to define these spaces in relation to myself, I have realized more and more that home has always been right on the tip of my nose. It’s me. And your home is you. Being extremely adaptable creatures, I feel that we, as many of the animals in Padel’s poems, can find home anywhere that suits our current needs of the time. As Padel states, “there is always a river to be crossed.” For some small amount of time we may define home as a specific house in a specific town; however, as our needs change, as we move to a new job or into a new home with a significant other, or perhaps just for a fresh set of scenery, that place we once categorized as home changes. The only common denominator in these moves is the self. I think this is a comforting realization, that home can be anywhere as long as my needs are satiated and I have different ways of finding happiness.

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