The most creative "work in progress" house ever - Northampton County, NC (photo by Lilly Crowheart)
How do you judge your house? By its outward appearance? By the furniture you can afford? By the atmosphere contained within? By its level of cleanliness and organization?
Can a home be a tool, purposefully used to support a life consciously lived?
Some ideas I have for a new life in a new house:
- Our home is a place we belong, a safe place to rest and reflect, a homebase for anything we want to pursue and anywhere we want to explore
- The house is a solid frame through which we look at The Big Picture; when something seems troubling or wrong in our lives, we can take a moment to ground ourselves in its solid foundation and see the context to understand the true magnitude of the worrying detail
- Owning a home is the freedom and the ability to make the space in our home serve our needs – to build, decorate and adapt to create the atmosphere and amenities that support the life we envision
Chaos is Creativity - a source of joy
- Perfection is a naive and absurd pursuit – the real joy and value is in creating, adapting and enjoying a work in progress
March 30, 2011 is like a day of birth, a moment beyond which our lives will be transformed. Buying our new home is an event that no one can ever take away; it is the fulfillment of a dream. We can live that dream to the best of our abilities every day thereafter.
Shadows and Light - Grand Canyon, 2007
I’ve been reading a lot of Buddhist philosophy lately, which keeps me mindful of sensory experience, the fleeting nature of thoughts, interbeing and the simultaneous possibilities of suffering and joy. Our animal nature instinctively wants to avoid pain and seek pleasure, and so the idea that we might accept both of these in order to reach joy takes some getting used to.
Parenthood has taught me a lot about accepting the paradox of opposites emerging from the same situation, existing in the same space and time. Among other mind-blowing revelations surrounding my first child’s appearance on this planet, it occurred to me that as I gave birth, I also gave death. We cannot bring a person into the world without simultaneously condemning them to face their last breath someday. The pain of joy!
So philosophically I’ve understood the idea of the connection between pain and pleasure, but my body finally truly got it the other evening. I was driving to teach my Spanish class and mentally reviewing the events of the day, which included some wonderful news from several members of my family. I began to feel proud, relieved, excited, happy. Instead of judging these feelings as “good” or “pleasurable,” I just felt them as they welled up. I quietly watched how my body was responding to these emotional thoughts. (Somehow I kept driving too… not the best situation to get distracted by an awareness exercise, but that’s about the only quiet time I get these days.) My eyes were tearing up, my chest was squeezing tightly, my breath was shallow and strained, my head felt like it was going to explode. From my removed perspective, I realized that it felt exactly like grief. This overwhelming wave of happiness resembled exactly my recent experiences with crushing sorrow over the loss of my Grandma, except that normally I would have labeled it “good” and so it would have felt amazing. When it is about something “bad” then it feels awful.
I’m not sure what to do with this new physical awareness. Does “good” become tainted with “bad”? Having seen the man behind that curtain, do they both become irrelevant? Is there no longer pleasure or pain? Can we trick ourselves into thinking “it’s all good!” and avoid pain forever?
The Overlook - Grand Canyon, 2007
Is there a new place to dwell, a mountaintop above these paradoxical dualities, where we can see something more true and real than animal emotions and senses which flash hard and random like lightening through our conscious minds?