“There’s no place like home,” a quote from L. Frank Baum’s 1900 fantasy, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Near the end of its 1939 adaptation, Dorothy repeats that phrase to return home to Kansas.
There were important life lessons in that movie. Themes like:
- family appreciation
- friends working together
- finding your personal best qualities
- good versus evil
- belief in yourself
In the end, though, it was really about what qualities people identify with home. What pulls people back after being away. What values, physical characteristics and relationships are most important.
I had a similar experience this past week. It was a biannual meeting where many people from around the world, come together to share and learn.
Because we are far away from home and the culture and languages are different, there is a quality to life that is somewhat surreal, like being in a movie. (Listening to a variety of foreign languages, eating different foods and sleeping in tiny single beds.) There are characters throughout the week that are either unexpected or behave in strange ways. (Who can predict what kind of guest speakers will appear, or if a known character will suddenly break completely from their normal personality.)
All of that would be quite tolerable to a person’s frame of mind, but the sleep deprivation starts to kick in. Over the course of a week, it is not uncommon reduce normal sleeping hours by 2 to 3 per night, which equals over 2 full nights of regular rest at home, over the same period. That is where the physiological effects start to kick-in. Depending on the person, it can be both funny and sad to watch and experience.
Even that wouldn’t be so bad, if it were not for the epic journey, 4 of us endured, to get home. Suffice to say, it took 27 hours to complete a trip that normally takes us about 17. And we trekked the path, just like the foursome in “The Wizard of Oz.” We had a lion, a tin-man, a scarecrow and Dorothy. By supporting each other, laughing and trying to be optimistic, we made it home.
As the hours continue to pass and the experience quietly fades away, what I think of, is how much I love being at home. I’m not sure why, we humans have to venture away from home, to truly appreciate why we love it. But that was what happened to me last week.
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