“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great…” Maya Angelou
It took me a long time to understand this quote. Decades. Oh, I was familiar with the “no place at all.” That didn’t seem to be a problem. I never thought I fit in with my town, or even my family. And that is a lonely place. Because we all want to belong, it’s our nature as humans. It’s why we have gatherings, schools, religions.
And so I began my journey. Away from this town. Away from this state. And eventually, away from this country. But each new place, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, France…did I belong to them? Not really. But I was becoming comfortable in my own skin. I was creating a world from inside my heart. I was learning that just because some people don’t love you, or can’t, doesn’t mean you are unlovable. It doesn’t mean you don’t belong.
From each new destination, each new experience, I was able to see the other places with a new perspective. I could go back to my hometown, my home, and I could wear the letter “A” for Alexandria with pride, no longer in the Hester Prynne sense, but in the “cheer oh cheer for Alex” sense.
Maya was right all along. She continued her explanation with, “I belong to Maya.” And with that, she belonged everywhere, and nowhere. She could be somewhere or alone and she was home. What freedom!
This freedom has allowed me to travel, to be open, to love and give with my whole heart and know that is good. It is enough. Maya was right – it can be terrifying (“the price is high”), but it is beautiful (“the reward is great!”).
Today, I belong here. Every place. No “place” at all.