The Turn in the Road

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:

Past forty
a man can carry

the flush
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

lets the
crow settle

on the soft acres
of his face.

from Cinderbiter

‘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.

Homeward Bound is the commonplace book of a school called HOME: a site to share the lines of thought we are following, the voices we are learning from, and the places this is leading us. Like anything with life in it, this is a work in progress, and our understanding of what we are up to here will no doubt shift as we go along.

Homeward Bound is also the title of the live Zoom series we offer as a way to get to know the school. A new seven-week series of Homeward Bound Live begins on 9 & 10 November 2021. Read more about this invitation on the school website, or watch the video below.

To follow what we’re doing with Homeward Bound, sign up for Writing Home, a Substack where I’ll be sharing my writing for this site. You can also take out a paid subscription which will give you access to subscriber-only posts and discussions.