A number of years ago I came across Rebecca Solnit’s article The Most Radical Thing You Can Do.
It was a time, where in the Chicago city life, we were feeling the pressure to leave the home constantly. Leaving the home to dine with friends, leaving the home and go away on vacation, leaving the home to go read and sip coffee at the bookstore, leaving the home for meetings of every sort.
It was as though leaving the home had become a status symbol of a fulfilled life, a lifestyle with energy, constant movement, commitment, fun, people.
It was also a season where I began to sense a loss of substance in the rituals of waking and sleep, the meal time preparations and partaking, the space in between the dining, vacations, bookstores, meetings, etc.
It was as though staying at home became the less important thing to do, an action taken only if I could absolutely think of nothing else to do or any one else to see.
Nicole Gliddon shared in her 2009 article, A Radical Proposal: Stay At Home,
Staying near home always seems like a less important thing to be doing, doesn’t it? I often wonder why we feel that way, when our home is where our roots are. A plant cannot survive without its roots. To what, exactly, are we so eager to get away? If I’m being honest with myself, I’m going away to consume, to busy myself, to participate in an activity or indulge an interest – an interest for which society has already laid a narrow, limited framework.
Two weeks ago my parents rented a small condo up in Northern Michigan to spend some time away from their everyday commitments.
Always welcoming, they invited our family to spend a few days with them. Most certainly, a way to spend hours with their grandchildren. Jake and I, simply tag-a-longs.
They weekend was beautiful. Food abundant, walks plenty, hours spent together talking, reading, laughing, resting on the back porch overlooking Boyne Ski Resort.
As our weekend came to a close and we began our three and a half hour trek home I became filled with an anticipation for home.
An sense of excitement that I haven’t experienced in months and simply needed a few days away to ignite. My mind became filled with tasks involving dirty hands, barefeet, loose afternoons and a desire to exercise our right to stay at home.
What I didn’t anticipate was the change that had occurred in our measly 48 hours away.
As Little Tomato opened her door, climbed out of her car seat, made her way to the border where the concrete driveway meets our West lot, she stepped into a field of newly blossomed dandelions, spread her arms open and declared, “Look Papa, all my flowers came up!”
Lily of the Valley began peeking their way through dense clay and root-bound soil in our back lot.
Our, thought to be deceased, mums began showing signs of life, of roots grown deep, of a tenacity to come alive after a long winter.
Myrtle had blossomed and made over a foot of new growth.
Our cherry tree, an extremely thoughtful house-warming gift from good friends in Chicago, blossomed! In 48 hours our cherry tree gave birth to near one hundred white fruitful flowers.
Once barren trees in, yes, 48 hours, took color! Red maple buds of spring made way for the green shade of summer.
Raspberry bushes and creeping bluebells came to life where, 48 hours before, only tall green grassy leaves and budding sprigs stood.
Violets, our favorite “weed”, opened up their tightly bound blossom to welcome warmer weather and make themselves available for little kid snacking.
Olivia also was quite pleased with our welcoming home and wouldn’t stray more than ten feet from Sweet Basil’s hands. Sweet Basil was not one to protest the attention or the play.
All in 48 hours.
Our home came to life in the most tangible sense and I couldn’t help but wonder: When we are away from home dining, vacationing, reading, meeting, how much of life are we missing at home?
Once we desire to stay at home more often, we’ll eventually realize how painful it’s been to be cut off from our roots. We’ll want to be reconnected, or feel the connection for the first time – to be firmly planted as aware beings, conscious of those living beside us, those within our walls, the crops outside our doors, and the nature beyond them.
So will you, as the poet and bioregionalist Gary Snyder said, do the most radical thing you can do and stay at home today?
Will you take the next 48 hours and observe the life that is birthing it’s way into your day-to-day and take part in nurturing this connection once again?