“If I could go back home
If I could go back home
If I’d never left, I’d never have known
We all dream of leaving but wind up in the end
Spending all our time trying to get back home again”
~ Home Again by Elton John
Travelling – especially when alone – clears my head of worries and allows for thoughts to wander freely without distractions. With this clarity of mind, the sensorial experience of listening to music gets accentuated. The meanings of the lyrics, as well as the melodic structures and vocal intonations of songs, become more apparent. A greater understanding of the music then triggers a deeper emotional response within myself. This is particularly true when listening to songs about home, which leads to me feeling especially poignant. And I will scratch my head in confusion – for wanderlust have always left me feeling unsettled at home and led to me searching for far-flung places to visit. If you are continually seeking to escape from home, why will you feel poignant when reminded of home?
This begets the question: “Where exactly is home?” Or perhaps, the question should be: “What is a home?” Or: “Who makes a home?”, “When do you feel most at home?”. In other words, is home a place, such as a comfortable shelter for you to rest your weary self? Or is home an object, for example a familiar bolster that you can snuggle with? Or does a home consist of people and being showered with love from family and friends? Or is home a phase in time, the happiest moment of your life?
The notion of home is explored in the music video to the Elton John’s song, “Home Again”. It starts with an aged man shown to be deep in contemplation. He then puts on a well-tailored suit, picks up his trusty suitcase and leaves his humble abode in search for home. During the journey, he traverses through streets, jungles, valleys and waterfalls (places). He clutches dearly onto a coin, stretches his hand out of a car to feel the running wind and rests his face on the smooth, black soil (objects). As he proceeds through his journey, he gets younger and by the end of the video, he is a young boy with sparkling blue eyes and shiny blond hair (time).
The music video also ends with ambiguity: Although the man seemed to have reached his end destination, his facial expression does not reflect jubilation. On the contrary, he confusedly looks around before peering thoughtfully into the sky. The video might be bringing across the point: “The home that we so desperately seek might not be what we want after all”. In addition, to me, the video also expresses the idea that home need not necessarily be a place, or an object, or a point in time. In fact, home need not be tangible. It could be an intangible – maybe, a deep-etched memory that evokes feelings of happiness and nostalgia. Or feelings of sorrow, love and pain. As long as we hold on to that intangible, we do not need to be in a “physical home”.
In my opinion, travel enthusiasts embrace the notion that home can be an intangible. As long as we can find an inner peace within ourselves, we need not root ourselves to a particular place, an object, people and a point in time. This might seem unfathomable to others, who argue that there must be some deep-set reasons as to why we continually travel and escape from home (and reality). And I agree with the article written by Nomadic Matt, “Everyone Says I’m Running Away”. Yes, indeed – we are running away from the “real” world, in search of a different world filled with our own ideals of life.
Having said that, a traveller – while travelling – is easily susceptible to external triggers, and our feelings could quickly swing from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. One day we might be ecstatic and the next, we are deeply homesick. The juxtaposition of the lyrics within the chorus of “Home Again” accurately depicts the fickleness of our minds.
“If I could go back home, If I could go back home” highlights how we pine for home, family and friends although we are excited to be exploring the world yonder.
“If I’d never left, I’d never have known” reminds us that the nomadic lifestyle is the path we have chosen, and we should be proud of ourselves for living the life we want to live.
“We all dream of leaving but wind up in the end, spending all our time trying to get back home again” describes how we question ourselves on what we seek to achieve in life; as after a long period of travel, we might ask ourselves if we should go back home. But deep down in our hearts, we know that going back home is a misnomer. As cheesy as it may sound – home is indeed where the heart is. As long as we know that we have lived life to the fullest in accordance to our own values, we are already at home.
Photo Credit: Music Video, “Home Again” by Elton John