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Three thoughts about home, prompted by TS Eliot.

T.S. Eliot
East Coker

I
In my beginning is my end. In succession houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended, are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires, old fires to ashes, and ashes to earth which is already flesh, fur and faeces, bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.

Houses live and die: there is a time for building and a time for living and for generation and a time for the wind to break the loosened pane and to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots and to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.


I was hesitant to move over Thanksgiving Break. My entire childhood home packed up and relocated. ‘Houses live and die’ was a consolation to me, because I was convinced I would not feel at home somewhere new. I convinced myself, really. I was prepared to (in a melodramatic fashion) succumb to the state of a metaphorical traveler, in limbo. I had settled so deeply into the place I was before.

I thought surely it was my job to make peace in being unsettled. Took me a while to think that I could simply – make peace.

I sit through marketing classes, design classes, writing classes. I am always thinking about how to capture the audience and bring them into an atmosphere you have created? A world that will affect them. Deeply. I have been aware of the tremendous or subtly responsibility creative makers have (whether we acknowledge it or not) about making place. Mom told me, because she knew I was hesitant, “It will be beautiful because you will be there, Olivia. You will make it beautiful”.

I heard, “you will make it home.” Home being a definitive adjective and descriptor, not a noun or destination.

In a new home, I am my own audience. I get to delight myself. Surprise myself. Put my own mark on this experience.

II
“Do not let me hear of the wisdom of old men,
But rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy,
Their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another,
Or to others,
Or to God.

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.”


Eliot names two things here that clashed within me when moving to a new place. The desire to have a sense of security and belonging pitted against the fear of commitment & permanence.

I’m sure the industries I study only exacerbate that. Advertisers prey on people’s fear of change through cunning use of word and image. We are afraid of change; we are afraid of permanence. Are we afraid a lack of change means a lack of growth? Is it because nothing in our lives on this earth is permanent?

It’s that annoying clash of feelings, knowing you are walking into a new home and you have the joy of making new memories ahead of you, even as you are experiencing the loss of your former place.

We go through life amazing jumbled creative piles of things, us designers and creatives (humans in general too) and these places begin to connote us. Denote us. Resemble us. Give witness to the presence of us. They bear our marks. This “fear of frenzy” is probably something we create as much as we encounter.

Maybe I should be intentional about place making in this space that I feel will be quite temporary to me. Mark my experience as my own instead of feeling quite hapless in this transition.

V
“home is where one starts from.”

“love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.”


Creative work can often be urgent and responsive. Buy now. Think about this now. This is your moment to stand up and speak and share your voice. Here and now is a consistent prompt. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to find a moment where “here and now cease to matter”.

So maybe “home” started for me when I started choosing to create it. Small moments when I was being myself and the “here and now” seemed irrelevant. Sometimes home for me is a mode where you can let the “here and now” go and let yourself overflow creatively. Starting from the woman I have grown to be, and letting my personality and exploration grow.

Olivia Mason

Olivia loves the creative process, so she studies graphic design & writing. It is why she is so curious about the artwork & designs made by others. She loves the fresh smell of soil when repotting her plants, the crisp smell of paper when reading, and the sultry smell of smoke from a campfire. She enjoys hands-on artwork like collage or painting and listening to 50s jazz ballads and lo-fi mixtapes while she creates. Currently, Olivia is working in Grand Rapids, Michigan while she finishes her degree at Calvin University.

3 Comments

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    Where here and now cease to matter. That feels to me like exile. I know that the prophets and the gospel call us to exile as much as to home, to rest. Will I find God in the promised land or in the desert? (The deserts of the heart, said Eliot’s contemporary.) Will I find myself in the promised land or in the desert? Or is to find myself to find my calling? Was the Lord Jesus in exile from heaven when he made his home among us, in those shabby new houses of East Coker? Was that necessary for the new creation? You are touching on things here, and thank you.

  • JD says:

    You’re amazing Olivia!

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