“I can’t wait to get home.”
“Home is where the heart is.”
“Home is the place that when you go there, they have to take you in.”
For me, none of these often heard statements resonate. There have been many places where people felt compelled to take me in, but were not home to me. There were other places that would not take me in if they knew who I am, but I knew I was home. My heart may not be in my work sometimes, but I know I am home.
Literally, I am home.
In the mid-1980s I noticed that I was involved in a challenging balancing act. Like so many others I was trying to achieve work/life balance. The scrutiny of our daily activities had not yet reached the feverish pitch that has in the past decade, but it was draining nonetheless. I realized by reflecting on my own experiences and those around me, that this effort to balance work and life needed to be fruitful or end; it was numbing and took way too much time away from enjoying the moment.
In a recent online exchange with my friend Tom Ehnert, I commented on the fractured approaches to understanding that emerged with Plato, Aristotle, St. Paul, and Descartes. Different aspects of the whole were made into different things. We became body and soul. Body, mind, and spirit. Our love became eros, agape, familial, fraternal, paternal, maternal, and filial. We divorced our life and work. I am me; my home is somewhere else.
To resolve the issue of work/life balance so I could live less encumbered by the analysis, I changed the questions for myself.
• How and why am I not alive when working?
• How and why are things not working in my life?
• Who is responsible for my not being alive when working?
• Who is responsible for my life not working?
The key to my answers lay in my new understanding at the time. I am home. Home is wherever I am because I am home. While I had been an openly gay man for 20 years when I wrestled with these questions, I was not doing my work as a gay man. I was a co-worker who happened to be gay. I analyzed systems and created programs as a manager who was gay. But I was not yet the gay manager or the gay co-worker.
Once I turned that corner, became more myself, brought my whole self to every situation, there was little to balance. I became alive at work and my life started working.
I don’t know how I would really be in community and not be myself – home.