Home : Why You Should Leave Home – Suzanne LaGrande – Medium

We are told, home is a place of refuge, the place we return to, where we recover and gather the strength we need to face the world.

For Superman it’s the opposite: When Kryptonite, a mineral from his home planet is near, he is immobilized with pain and, if it is not removed, he will eventually die. You might say, Superman is deathly allergic to home. He, like other refugees, will die if he returns home.

When I visited the Dublin Writer’s Museum, I learned that Ireland has more well-known writers of note than in any country in the world. What they didn’t mention was that almost all them, (with the exception of W.B. Yeats) left Ireland, and many never returned: Richard Sheridan, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, and Samuel Beckett were all expatriates for a good portion of their adult lives. Would they have been able to write about Ireland in the way they did had they stayed?

Periods of artistic innovation, such as that of the Harlem Renaissance, or the development of jazz in the U.S. in the 20th century, were made possible by mass migrations — from rural communities in the South, to urban cities in the the North. Whether by force or choice, the intermingling of people and cultures that resulted created new forms of art. Forms that would not have occurred had these artists stayed at home.

One doesn’t necessarily need to leave home to be creative or innovative, but it helps. It helps because when we put ourselves in situations where our inherited and assumed values are not the norm, we can start to see the limits of our own perspectives. It doesn’t always happen that we get de-centered, or that we learn what it’s like to be one who is perceived to be the stranger, but when it does happen, it’s incredibly fortunate. It’s one way we begin to understand home has given us, and also the ways that our familiar values have limited our understanding of the world.

When Dorothy left Kansas, she went from a world of black and white to a world of technicolor. Everyone she met, including the wicked witch, changed her for the better. I’d like to think that because of this, when a stranger passed through her town, her first response would not be to hide behind an arsenal of guns, call the cops or demand to see the stranger’s papers. I’d like to think she learned from her own experience of leaving home, that the world is full of strangers, that she is one of them, and that the only home worth making is the one that is big enough to welcome them all.


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