Take the Long Way Home

CC image courtesy of Flicker, jmawork.

Editorial note: The following is reprinted with permission from Laurie Works’ blog. It was originally published on August 31, 2015.

It’s not the context of the words but the words themselves that dig deep and gather some footing in my heart soil.

“Take the long way home…
take the long way home.”

The rest of the lyrics are a silly jumble, and have nothing to do (for me) with my current life. Or perhaps they do and I have yet to realize. Right now though, it’s this simple line that reels me in.

I grew up hearing it. My dad loved Supertramp. The harmonica lead-in is comforting and familiar and melancholy, all at once. I don’t remember the first time I heard it. I remember things like my dad singing it, with his wide-eyed emphasis on certain lyrics. When he said “home”, I’m sure he meant the place I was born – Whitefish, MT. Montana always equaled home, in his heart. And home was the place we were always trying to return.

I’m a careening sort of person. I was always the middle sister.

My twin, Stephanie, was the black and white one. I can still see her stubborn face pursed with lines, trying to make things fit into her little box of meaning. Logic was her language. Math was something she longed to understand, and she appreciated its certainty more than I did.

Rachel was the creative. My dad called her eclectic from the day when she was 3 or 4 and she came upstairs wearing one dress on top of another. We have a picture of her tilting her head charmingly towards her shoulder, clad in those two dresses. She never quite fit into the family the same way the rest of us did. She was always the two-dress girl. She wore the family dress and then promptly layered her own interpretation on top of it.

I was in the middle of them both. I held myself in between the lines with intense scrutiny, but another part of me escaped through color and creativity to a different world. I was legalist and escaping myself to find the sky.

I never understood how to match these two sides of myself together into something coherent. It was always a fight, has always been a fight.

Until lately.

I’ve been dropping the pieces. I’ve stopped trying to collect the evidence. I’ve stopped herding myself like a sheep and have decided that chips fall where they may. Perhaps now I will be still and let in the tide to wash on my shore, and see what comes up.

There’s something patient about this process. There’s something about not pushing things together trying to make sense of them, but letting their essence speak, instead. I’ve heard ever more loudly the clearly opposing sides of myself. The side that fearfully wants to ditch and find something more exciting, and the side that softly bears the ordinary and finds it sustaining.

They’re both present. If I try to make sense of it, I get confused.

This is taking the long way home.

This is living in the answers instead of making them up in my head. I allow the tide of feelings, thoughts, actions to flow in and out, gently, without trying to make sense. The ocean never made sense anyway, did it? It was just a thing of beauty. Maybe the beauty is truly in the in-between.

It may be the long way to home, but I’ve found that I’m arriving.


  • Take the Long Way Home from Roger Hodgson, Supertramp’s Voice and co-founder, has always been one of my favorites. I never tire of listening to these magical lyrics that can be interpreted in so many ways. I saw Roger perform his beauty live two years ago and can’t wait to see him again this November in Canada. Check this out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKGOCOAI_2c.

  • I get the sense that our first thought on the path of survival is nihilistic–nothing really matters and things don’t happen for a reason. The second thought, for those who heal enough to hear it, is that I don’t need to be the arbiter of why things happen. I find the meaning if I can, but I don’t need a why anymore. “If I try to make sense of it, I get confused.”

    Yep. Early in the healing process, I feel we recycle hatred to new targets. Trying to make sense and lash back after years of lashing. Excluding a different set of people just to prove we’re different now.

    It’s rare I meet a survivor who can allow feelings (theirs and other people’s) to come and go as they please, without assigning vicious emotion to them.

    Beauty is indeed the go-between.

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