Six degrees of separation and Belonging

From an Integral perspective, we are all connected, or more so, we are all one. I love the times in my life when I am brought up short by that. I call those my “6 degrees of separation” moments, of course after the game where Kevin Bacon is related to every other actor and movie from Hollywood by six people or less. This month I’ve had two such epiphanies, in similar fashion.

The book is “Belonging”  by Isabel Huggan, and it’s a memoir about Isabel’s world travels, ending in her stone house in the foothills of the south of France. I picked it up more than a year ago, and it became one of my “I’ll get to it” books in a laundry basket full of them. The first chapter is called “There is No Word for Home”  and Isabel talks about how in France there is no direct translation for the home country. Isabel quotes a surgeon Chis Giannou: “Home is not a physical, geographic entity. Home is a moral state.”  However, she finds, as she ages, that her longing is toward home – the original places where she was born and raised. And here’s the savoury read: she begins to describe the area around Ripley, Ontario and the 6th concession road where her mother was born and raised. She goes on to describe summers on Lake Huron at her uncle’s cottage near Kincardine, in Ripley. She describes car trips “up the line” meaning Highway 86 through Elmira, Listowell, Wingham and Lucknow. 

I slow down. I smile. I turn down the page corner. I highlight. I show my husband, my kids!! You see our family cottage is right outside Kincardine – and I bike to Ripley in the summer down the 6th concession! I know exactly of the road she speaks, the farmland the livestock and now the windfarms. Yet I didn’t know when I bought the book that this was in store for me.

A while later I am reading another book. This one I purchased on sale because of its cover. It’s called Falling by Anne Simpson, another Canadian author. The picture on the front is of Niagara Falls, where I grew up. I knew going in this book had the Falls in it. What I hadn’t expected was the detail. Ann writes about Stanley Avenue, and the white horse statue that rears up outside of the Imperial Motel. All things I am intimately familiar with. One of her fictional characters is an aging daredevil who went over the Falls in a self-made contraption. I know such a person, and I knew the wonderful man who used to recover the bodies of people who went over the Falls (he was actually my brother-in-law’s Dad). I can’t tell by reading if Anne ever lived in the Falls (she now lives in Antiginosh, Nova Scotia) but she has done her research and put the details in.

I am surprised at what happens when I see the name of a familiar street or landmark description in a book. I know that my tribal roots are touched, and that my “amber” line of development is strong inside of me. I may like to transcend where I have come from. I may wish to be connected to the whole planet, or the universe. But I am yanked back with a rush of emotion, and love, for things that bring a sense of belonging to a specific time and place.

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