Turangawaewae–of belonging and tribe
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
– Matsuo Basho
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
The Māori word turangawaewae has different levels of meaning and understanding. Its translation is: The Place Where I Stand. This is a card about centring, about Belonging. In many ways, it is about how we define ourselves.
The meaning can be geographical, as in home place. The place of our birth may be the one place where we feel we belong. I was born in the Maniototo area of Central Otago, New Zealand. Whenever I go there, I feel a certain comfortable familiarity, a sense of belonging. The wide-open plains and vast bowl of the sky, the way the stars turn and swirl in the sky above me on a dark night, feels like home to me. To travel there is to return home. And it always will be home, although my life’s journey may require I live somewhere else.
We may not understand why we feel drawn to a particular place, or even take the time to consider it. It may be enough just to carry that knowing within us.
The feeling may relate to the place where I work, to an organisation or institution. A farmer may well work and live his entire life in one place, on one piece of land. He is that land and that land is him. He is home.
Turangawaewae may be found within a spiritual tradition or community of faith. A Catholic priest lives his adult life within the body of the church and its teachings. The Church is his turangawaewae, as is the church/building/parish where he serves. And, of course, the community of which he is a part.
Turangawaewae may be found in family or within a tribe or culture. To say: I am a Cherokee or: I am French, carries layers of cultural belief, history, ritual and under-standings. And the fabric which interlinks all these aspects is the language of the tribe, for language both shapes the tribe and its members, and is shaped by it. It is an interdependent relationship.
Of course one’s profession is also an aspect of Turangawaewae. It is so common, when meeting someone for the first time, to ask the question: what do you do? O, I work for Google or: I am a lawyer. Much contained is in those two simple answers. You have defined yourself, named your tribe, and added layers of assumption and misunderstanding. You have also indicated social status. Imagine how different our relationships would be, how much more open if we were to replace that question with: please tell me who you are. Work may define your family and sense of belonging.
Turangawaewae may be found in a combination of these. It is an intricately-woven rope of many threads.
Its centre, however, lies at the heart, in the heart space.
Turangawaewae begins and exists within our hearts.
When matters of belonging and home occur for you, as they may do at many points in your life, then you might well reflect upon the following questions:
- Who am I?
- Where do I belong?
- What does Belonging mean to me?
- What does Home mean to me?
- Have I found that place?
- Do I need to find that place?
Nga mihi ki a koe