Feeling at home

I recently spent a few days in Newmarket, Ontario, about an hour's drive north of Toronto. We had gathered for the funeral of a close family member. It was an emotionally trying time but also an opportunity to reconnect with family, friends and acquaintances. At the reception, talk turned to the topic of home.

Since we've moved out to Vancouver, many people have asked me, "So, how do you like Vancouver?" I always respond by saying that I'm enjoying living on the West Coast and I'm starting to feel at home here. But almost in the same breath I say that for me home is relative. Home is where I am, where I rest my head after a heavy day and where my family is. Home is not that necessarily related to a specific location.

The more I travel, the more I realize that while geography offers us the infinite variety of the natural world and clues to understanding local history and culture, it is also represents simply an aesthetic aspect of life. Life, for most of the week, revolves around work, spouse and family, shopping, food and rest.

As beautiful as the country may be, so much of our daily experience looks the same after a while that in the end it doesn't matter so much whether one lives in the Rockies, the Prairies or the Maritimes. Offices are more or less the same, shopping centres offer the same types of stores and merchandise pretty much everywhere, restaurant franchises are copies of each other, and many of these companies are also national: think about brands like Tim Horton's or The Bay, for example. When you factor in the effects of network television programs, the availability of the Internet, portable music tracks that become the soundtrack of life, and the use of social media, then geography begins to matter less and less.

So as we share similar life experiences across the country, then "home" comes down to our routine and the relationships we form -- relationships at work, relationships in the house and how we stay in touch with extended family members. That emotional "place" is, for me, where home is. And, accepting that, one can, in theory, live just about anywhere in this vast country and find a way to feel at home.

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