I learnt what a ‘bolt-holt’ was during a session with a therapist once.
A bolt-hole is a place to go or use out of convenience but not a place where one rests, or finds solace and peace, which is what one is usually doing when they’re “going home.”
I sought out help because I was feeling stuck, deplete of joy and quite miserly. Most times when we seek outside help, I think it’s because we know something isn’t quite right but we aren’t able to decipher and decode why we’re feeling such a way. You might have a good job, be financially secure, have family nearby and live, arguably, in a very nice location (in my instance, tropical North Queensland) and yet something can still just feel ‘off.’
The therapist pried into my living situation, which was basically renting in the city where work is, but retuning to my little hometown most weekends to visit family and spend a few days relaxing in suburbia.
She asked why I did the hour or so long drive it took to get from one place to the other so often and that most people would find that tiring or a burden.
Thinking about it, I realised that aside from the first few times of doing the trip, it later then just continued out of habit rather than anything else. Like most people, I love my family, but too much time with family drives anyone nuts and like most small country hometowns, mine doesn’t have much going on in it either.
Simply, the pleasure was in just being able to retreat to the house where I grew up, it felt cosy, familiar, all my hobby items were there, all my stuff was there. My city apartment just had my work suits, a desk, some books and a broken vinyl player.
Not having a place to retreat to can significantly negatively impact our psyche. The stressors and tribulations of our day when we’re ‘out-there’ should be soothed and lessened by the place that’s call home.
The therapist told me my home in the city was more of a ‘bolt-hole’: a place to go or use out of convenience but not a place where one rests, or finds solace and peace.
Without some sort of reprieve which a home provides, our fight-or-flight mode never switches off, the anxieties throughout the day stay with us throughout the night only to repeat themselves the next day, then again the day after that.
So I took heed. At my next earliest available opportunity, I donned my DIY hat and tried to spruce up my city apartment. Being more of a practical person… okay, okay being more of a tightass person**, it was difficult for me to justify the acquisition of most things, “Am I really gonna spend $10 on a throw pillow, I don’t even know what a ‘throw-pillow’ is.”
To be honest I still don’t know what it is, a pillow on a couch is still a pillow if you ask me, but the homewares section of Target seems to disagree so, whatever.
I bought the throw pillows, canvasses and wall-art, houseplants, incense, a spice-rack, whatever would make it feel more “homely” and it seems to have worked.
Not just because the place was full of more material shit now but because I had taken time to curate my space, to inject a bit of my personality in every corner, create an environment that suited me and my needs, both functionality wise and aesthetically.
Perhaps I’m a bit late to the party and this is the obvious first step for everyone when you move in somewhere. When I think about it, this is just another manifestation of my subconscious taking care of other things and other people before taking care of myself.
I think a lot of us have this nasty habit of putting our work above everything, putting our client’s/customer’s needs above our own need for space, putting wealth-building above our own need for rest, putting our temporary desires on hold to ensure we can provide for a future that has not yet arrived.
Most my life has been spent somewhat itinerant and nomadic, moving from one place to another, not staying anywhere for too long. I move on from apartments, houses, places, even people, because the seeking of novelty is one of the truest ways to experience life, for me personally anyway.
But this comes with its detriments, you have no foundational base.
I probably won’t be in this city for very long either and who knows about the next. But now, I think, it’s important we curate any of our lifestyles and environments to reflect what’s inside us, however temporary it may be. Even if merely to reinforce the fact that our external homes are just a reflection of our internal states, true home then is only found within.