Sunday, August 7, 2011

Getting Home

Dorothy's ruby slippers are now on display at the Smithsonian.
She doesn't use them anymore.
Remember how Dorothy transported herself back from Oz? She clicked her ruby slippers together and repeated, “There’s no place like home” and was suddenly back in Kansas.
Yeah, it turns out that it doesn’t really work--I tried it yesterday to save some long hours in the car on our return trip from McCall, Idaho. All that happened was I got some very strange looks from the locals. I still had to do the 500+mile drive. Actually, it’s a very scenic drive so no complaints.

Now I’m thinking more about that quote from the movie: “There’s no place like home.” Hmmm.
Riding In The Willamette Valley
Probably each of us has someplace we think of as “home,” where we most strongly find our sense of place and belonging in the world. It may not be where we currently live, but where we are most connected to for one reason or another. Because of the associated memories and emotions, we see these surroundings differently and more subjectively than anywhere else we go. Riding through a forest and taking in the sweet smells of cedar and pine, or rolling beside a field of fresh cut hay or mint, I feel most at home. You may as well cue the soundtrack with Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Movement 2 to be precise. 
It’s sort of interesting, though, how “home” is such a relative term, isn’t it? For me, home is here in the Willamette Valley, but somebody else’s home could as well be in those mountains I can see to my east or the coast range to the west. Or maybe it's that next set of mountains just beyond my view, or even a place that is on an entirely different continent. 
I believe that getting there--and being there--on a bicycle rather than something faster and steel encased, makes all the difference as we learn to appreciate what “home” means to somebody else. No matter how far away we go, we are always visitors in somebody else’s home, and in this sense, our homes are all connected to each other.

I love what I read recently from Donald Miller's book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. He was describing being a part of a cycling group that was nearing their completion of a ride across the United States: 
It didn't feel like we'd ridden across the country. It didn't feel like the ocean was only two days away. We'd grown into the lifestyle and gotten lost in the story and even, to some degree, grieved that it was ending. When you fly across the country in an airplane, the country seems vast, but it isn't vast.  It's all connected by roads one can ride a bike down.  If you watch the news and there's a tragedy at a house in Kansas, that guy's driveway connects with yours, and you'd be surprised how few roads it takes to get there.  The trip taught us that we were all neighbors, that my life is connected to everybody else's, that one person's story has the power to affect a million others.
It’s really all just our perspective. Riding new roads, finding new places, and experiencing new things, are some of the great joys of riding a bike. So, too, is the exhiliaration of returning to familiar places on a road you know well, because it has become so much a part of who you are. And once you've done that ride, things feel closer and home feels bigger. Whether it’s my age, or accumulated time on the saddle, it’s good to try to expand my view of “home.”
So, Dorothy, have a great life in Kansas. Once you recover from that bump on your head, see if you can borrow that bicycle from Miss Gulch and learn what’s out beyond the farm.