Inside and out: it all happens here

Photo by David Norman

I’ve been pondering this a lot since the move to Chicago (and with some writing I’m doing under the topic of hygge). As you may know, my family just concluded a move of epic proportions across the country. My wife and I lived in Chicago years ago, we fell in love here, and since moving back west closer to family, we’ve wanted to move back.

Chicago is just so… comfortable to us. Especially this neighborhood we moved to just north of downtown. It feels like we were meant to be here. I feel totally at home in a way I haven’t experienced since we left.

In short, it brings me a sense of hygge (I won’t belabor you with definitions here). But all this hygge talk seems to run contradictory to the spiritual principles I posit. I’m big on the inside-out way of experiencing the world.

So why should it matter where I live? Whether I live in Waco or Chicago, it should all be the same, right? Inner bliss no matter where I go. Am I a hypocrite? A walking contradiction? I shouldn’t have any preferences when it comes to ‘outside locations’, right?

But here’s the epiphany that just hit me…

There is no real ‘outside location’. All of it exists in consciousness.

As I look out my third floor window onto the tree lined street below (I swear this place resembles Sesame Street — it’s so great), Chicago is happening on the screen of my awareness.

So, yes, I’m going to have preferences. I’m human just like you. We’re going to have two totally different (or at least slightly different) stories about any one place.

This carries over to the concept of hygge. I sometimes wonder, if I’m such a internally driven guy, why should it matter how my dwellings are arranged? I should feel totally blissful whether I’m in front of a fire or laying in a gutter, right?

But, no… It’s all happening in consciousness. Yes, this inside experience will evolve over time. Yes, it’s entirely thought-created. Yes, it changes, grows and evolves. But it’s all here. In mind.

That table over there is not outside. It’s on my screen of awareness. Right now, I’m imagining my coffee table when I was a kid. That’s happening on the same screen.

To take this a level deeper, we say it’s ‘inside’, but is it really? Doctors have opened us up in many different ways and haven’t located anything that resembles consciousness or a soul anywhere in there.

It seems more like this awareness is enveloping us. If you look through your eyes, your awareness is limited to the room you’re in — and if you have a nice view, maybe your town. But when you close your eyes, your awareness is infinite and not tied to what’s happening now.

All of it is in consciousness.

So just let me enjoy Chicago while I’m all fresh and starry-eyed again, okay? 😜


As I sit here in this space — this room, car, train, yard, or wherever it is — I see that it’s all happening in consciousness. My favorite coffee mug has nothing to do with the mug itself, it has to do with the meaning I’ve placed on it. And that meaning is my reality. There’s nothing at all wrong with it. But it is true. Which means that home is a place in me. Hygge is a place in me. I am at home wherever I want to be. And I’m astray wherever I decide. Right now, I feel at home. Even though a night under the stars might be nice. And so it is.