“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” ~ The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius IV, 43
As in a swiftly flowing river, we are led along by life and time whether we like it or not. In order to not just survive but thrive, we try to create as much stability and certainty as we can in an uncertain world. Home is a bulwark in the midst of all of the uncertainty.
My relationship with the concept of home is a strange and multi-faceted one. My parents were missionaries and musicians in a small Christian sect. They had 10 kids, of which I am second oldest, and as we came along, we were added to the family band. We travelled around the world singing and performing, each of us born in a different place (Aruba, where I was born, London, Miami, New York, Texas, Puerto Rico). We have lived in every kind of structure you can imagine. During our London stay, we had a beautiful three-story house with a rose-filled garden in the back, one of my favorite places we ever lived. We lived in hotels en route of our travels, in vans and buses that my father would gut and convert into campers, in a Swiss chalet at the top of the mountains with a view of a cascading waterfall and lake, and in trains and buses that would take us to the next town.
The river rolls on. When I was 12, we lived in a school bus that my dad converted into a camper. We would park on the a New York City side street and sleep. In the morning, we would wake up, unload our instruments, and busk on the street corner. I remember looking out of the window early in the mornings and watching the river of businessmen and women rushing to their jobs on their morning commute with their nice clothes and briefcases. In southern Germany, my little brother was born in Mainz. I was around age 5. Near where he was born, we lived at the top of a snowy mountain in what could only be called a ski resort. My mom and older brother, with me in tow, would sled down the hill to go to the main town below to buy supplies. It was scary, with a lot of trees on the hill on the sled down. Other times, and times less scary, we would live in hotels along our tour and performing route, with simply whatever we had on us — our instruments and our backpacks. In my teens, I started stuffing civilian clothes into my guitar case, so that I could have something to wear that wasn’t a costume. It was my attempt at being like a normal person during the times we weren’t performing.
When I finally left the family band at the age of 21 and struck out on my own, I experienced a tumultuous reconciliation of the two extremes of my developing environments. There was a necessary acclimation period to living in just one place. Although I do like to travel, visit different countries and places, and meet new people, having a home base allows me to fulfill the wanderlust that I have been imprinted with since birth. This desire will never go away, along with the certainty that — at the end of the day, at the end of whatever periods of curiosity I fulfill — I can come back to a checkpoint, a stable environment where I feel safe. Having a home base has been my guiding star, the prime directive of my life, the thing that is my ballast in a river strong and swift.
When we look at the history of mankind, we see that progress towards higher and more intricate thought processes and motivations, as compared to a more instinct-driven lifestyle, developed once we embraced the concept of a stable home. We experienced the kind of progress where subsequent generations could build upon the storehouses of knowledge of previous generations. We created concepts, morals and societies. Having a home is a necessity for growth, development and the manifestation of intricate interior qualities. When you are wondering where you are going to sleep and how you will shelter yourself, you cannot create beauty and make a long-lasting imprint. Unhoused, you are a frightened, scrabbling creature with basal thoughts led by instinct alone. But when you have a place you can call your own, you know you where you will end up at the end of the day. Your days are connected. You can bring your head out of survival mode and think about creation, beauty and adding higher qualities and concepts to this world.
RUPCO is doing the best work that one can do on this earth. Helping those who cannot afford a place to live to have a place they can call their own. Providing resources and information to people interested in owning their own home, being the last bastion between many and homelessness. I am honored to have been a part of RUPCO in their mission to strengthen homes, communities and lives.
Susan Cagle is RUPCO’s Assistant to Communications and a student at SUNY-Ulster majoring in computer science.