words by Daniel Parsa
I told an acquaintance of mine that I have moved houses more than anyone that I know. She said she may be holding that record. After a quick countdown, I think both of us can be in the Guinness Book of Records in our age brackets for having moved houses so many times.
The psychology of moving every six months or a year or two is demanding and complex and unless one is not forced to move, most of us won’t do it on a whim. If we do it’s for a good reason. For example, buying a house or leaving town.
While travelling in Greece I came across people from other European countries that have made Greece home. I met a German woman in a Greek island who had purchased a property to start her new life. She gradually transformed the dilapidated estate into a beautiful home and cultural hub where musicians and artists come and perform. She had put in an incredible amount of work and resources building it through the wet, cold winters and hot summers. Her journey in building a home in a new environment where culture, language and history are so different to hers was the best way to feel grounded and feel like a local, she said.
Recently I have moved into my own house for the first time in my life. Given my previous lifestyle I realised it will take a while for me to feel grounded. Subconsciously I still think one day I’ll receive a notice in the mail asking me to evacuate.
I have discovered one effective way of spreading my roots and feeling grounded is to work on the house and especially in the garden. Although I have not built this house, I can see how immensely beneficial it can be for people to be involved in building the home that they are going to inhabit. Knowing the house brick by brick and knowing where it all comes from it can only increase the feeling of satisfaction.
By doing repairs and decorating the house I try to become more connected to the house that I am living in. Also by using recycled materials I reduce the pressure on the earth’s resources. The garden provides me with the opportunity to connect with the earth in a different way. Taking part in its day-to-day care makes me think about the seasons, weather forecast, water, temperature, soil, seeds, plants, worm and insects. Bees and flowers too. Working with the elements in a creative way can only be beneficial for us as we begin to see ourselves in a correct perspective in relation to the environment. If you haven’t got a garden, why not find a community garden and volunteer in its care – the benefits are similar.
It is easy to feel uprooted in a world where people rarely die in the same place they were born. We cannot feel the earth under our feet unless we recognise our disconnectedness to it. One of the main reasons we do not take the problem of pollution seriously enough is because we are disconnected from the earth which is the source of our livelihood.
Whether we stay in one location or move from one place to another like gypsies we can still feel too far removed from the ecological problems of our world. To feel grounded we must first acknowledge our tenuous connection to our environment and start treating it as a living, breathing body inseparable from ourselves.