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Leaving the house (unless youíre homeless or a nomad)

From: Eva
Category: Life
Date: 25 May 2005


The general routine, after waking and doing things like washing and eating, is to leave the house. Recently it strikes me that we take a lot for granted every time we leave. Unless today is moving house day, our belief in the inevitability of return distracts us from the punctuation and symbolism of leaving. If weíre off on holiday then we may take a few minutes to contemplate what is left behind, but not much more.

For most people thereís a daily pause after packing pockets or bags with keys, wallet, diary, mobile phone or whatever else is important. The pause is ostensibly to think of anything weíve forgotten but it also contains the transition from indoor thoughts to outdoor one, from private to public life. In that pause is also the faith that we wonít die before returning, and that our home will not be destroyed. [I appreciate that there are a lot of places in the world where social instability means this canít be taken for granted, but Iím talking about if you donít live in a war zone, or have bailiffs at the door].

Symbolic rites of passage are considered to be such things as birth, adolescence, adulthood, death and the like, generally one-off events. Yet daily we pass through the front door and itís an achievement if we return. This review isnít about being scared of leaving the house, although I do like the names of house related phobias such as DOMATOPHOBIA - fear of houses or being in a house, OIKOPHOBIA - fear of home surroundings, house; AGORAPHOBIA - fear of open spaces or of being in crowded, public places like markets, fear of leaving a safe place.

This is a review of a leaving the house, a daily activity thatís not talked about as if itís a leap of faith. When you return you donít have to be carrying a bride to reflect on what crossing the threshold means. Maybe this review does assume that home is a safe or desirable place to be, and such assumption would negate any underlying universalist message. But home is not the point here, what is the point is another day going by and also the different kinds of mental states involved in being at home or being outside and how quickly and thoughtlessly we go from one to the other.

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