On 26 October, 2021, I slipped this out as a post at homewardbound.org, the new site that we’re calling the commonplace book of a school called HOME. We’ll be using the site to share the work that’s going on in the community around the school and the public instalments of this letter series will find a home there.
I’ll say a little more about the relationship between Writing Home and Homeward Bound in a future instalment, but it seemed appropriate to share this as an opening to the writing I want to do here.
I have had such grand plans for what I would write to announce this site’s arrival in the world, to do justice to the scope of what we hope can fit under its roof. No wonder it’s taken so long to finally get here! For it’s obvious enough, in the end: to be homeward bound is not a grand condition. It’s not conducive to declarations about the state of the world and what is to be done.
In any case, making manifestoes is a young man’s business, and I am no longer young. With that thought, an old Welsh poem comes to mind, smuggled across the borders of our century by Martin Shaw and Tony Hoagland:
a man can carry
of a tree in leaf,
or shoulder a
quiver of speech.
He can laugh quietly
over his scars.
But the sound of
a vault being opened
on the soft acres
of his face.
‘The Turn in the Road’ is what Martin and Tony call their version of the poem, and that title in itself might be a clue.
So let’s try this, as an opening claim: to be homeward bound is to have turned aside, to have left the big path, the one big path that was meant to lead to the future; no longer to be in service to its promises, and to ask what else is worth doing with the time we may have left.
Even as I put these words together, I know they raise more questions than they answer. In what sense can any of us truly turn aside? What does this way of talking bring into view, what does it invite and what could it obscure?
There will be time to think harder and feel deeper into all of this. For today, though, I’m happy to fall in alongside the questions, to walk together for a while and keep them company. I look forward to seeing where they lead us, to having this space as a travel journal, a public trace of the conversations and collaborations going on around our school, and a platform where it is possible to make room for other voices.