We have all become quite accustomed to our homes by now. Spending more time within our confined surroundings have certainly been a bore, but sometimes it takes time to realize the value of what we have. Like Passenger sang about, you only value what you had when you no longer have it.
I was sitting at my table when I saw it. It was an odd-shaped mass in my backyard, crumpled on the wet grass. I was drawn to it like metal to a magnet; although small in size, it commanded my attention. As I got closer, I realized it was a bird’s nest. I ended up staring at it for a while; the twigs artfully weaved into each other had managed to retain much of the structure of the nest, the thin strips of newspaper as a base along with leaves and plastic pieces around the outside. I took a few pictures of it, then pondered on what to do with it; ultimately I left it as it was.
When I walked back into my house, it hit me that the nest I saw on the ground had been a home much like mine. It might no have been as large or warm, but it was a place that a bird knew was their own. And what had become of it from wind was a mass on the ground. I thought about wether it still remained a home, and wether its state reckoned its value. But, just like me, whoever called that nest home must not have remembered it for its properties, mores what is represented to it.
Home is arbitrary. It isn’t the physical location or properties that mean so much, moreso the people that are there. Home represents stability, a place filled with people and the things we know. If all else fails, we know that we can return home; home to the expected, to comfort and to our own piece of Earth. But for many, this isn’t what home is nor what is represents.
Take the five year Rohingya Migrant Crisis. Myanmar, home to almost one million Rohingya Muslims, never believed they should be deemed people in their country. The Rohingya were excluded from the 2014 census in Myanmar’s belief that they were not people, and they had no right to citizenship of their country. The place that the Rohingya have called home is in fact a place they are not welcomed, not heard and not recognized. In many cases, their homes have been reduced to ashes. Now, they are displaced and are living without a home from them to return to.
Or take the burning of the Amazon Rainforest, home to 2.5% of the world’s species. The effects towards climate change are evident from its burning, our source of oxygen is being replaced with growing amounts of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. And the with Government of Brazil doing little to stop this catastrophe, the fire has the strength to continue and destroy more of the forest. However, the forest is more than a source of gas but a habitat. The existence of hundreds of thousands of living organisms depends on the Amazon, and as its trees fall their lives do too. Without a habitat, source of food and shelter, thousands of organisms have already been displaced and will continue to be until action is taken.
The above examples support the fact that home is a matter of perception. We remember what is made of it, whatever that may be. For the birds that lived in the nest I found, home was probably shelter from the incoming cold weather. It could have meant comfort, but to see it on the ground like that was shaking in a way. I can only describe it to like looking at someone’s life, work, journey and dedication all being condensed into one object and seeing it overpowered, worthless. What might that home have represented for the animals that lived there, I do not know. I can only imagine it represented that same thing I see every time I round the corner on my street. The familiarity strikes as my house slowly comes into view, seeing more than just red bricks and windows but love and happiness.
The bird nest is still in my backyard, sitting on the grass. It will stay there for as long as it can. And as the leaves have begun to fall, it might get covered in the crisp brown and red of the season. It might even see snow, and come to be covered with a frosty white blanket. But every so often, I will look for it; the tiny mass sprawled on the ground. Indifferent.