A few years ago, I'd gone to spend a month in Europe and when I boarded the Alitalia flight back home, there was an incredible childlike ecstasy like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I actually felt like dancing on the plane, oh yes Elvis, there's no place like home!
Did you know that the Arctic Tern, which lives about seven degrees south of the North Pole, leaves its home every year and flies all the way to Antarctica and back -- some 23,000 miles in all! The point I'm trying to make is that the bird returns home all of twenty three thousand miles, to its special place near the North Pole! It flies all that distance and returns to just the same spot it once left. I can hardly drive across the city without getting lost -- how does it do it? Twenty-three thousand miles! But somehow, the Arctic Tern possesses the ability to fly halfway around the globe and return home every year.
And salmon: I'm sure you know the salmon leaves her little mountain stream as a fingerling and swims, perhaps hundreds of miles, to the ocean where she lives. Then, when it's time to lay eggs, she swims back to her place of birth. She somehow finds just the right river, and all of the correct tributaries and streams and creeks until she arrives home. It's the trip of a lifetime -- one she may not survive. But she presses on, somehow knowing just the right paths to take along the way.
Like the Arctic Tern, the salmon possesses a built-in ability to find her way home. So it is with humans. We loaf, we roam, we wander but return home!
But as I think these thoughts, I also know that to have such a home we want to return to we also should have people there waiting for us to return. Sadly, I know many wives who are happy when their husbands go on long business trips, who love it when their sailor husband says goodbye for a four month trip at sea. I’ve had many conversations with wives in religious circles, who tell me about husbands who boss them, even, ‘he hits me Bob!’ they whisper. They are tyrants at home not just with their wives but daughters and daughters-in-laws, sometimes telling them, “You may be a professional, but in our family, women don’t work!”
“But I am a doctor!”
“Ha, we just wanted a trophy wife for our son, you stay at home and cook!”
Such men when they leave their homes, bring relief to those who they leave behind. “He’s coming back!” their relatives whisper sadly, and how often after their funerals, households rejoice as if they have won their freedom!
What home do you return to? One, where they wait for you, or wait for your funeral?
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org