All over the globe people acknowledged and venerated their homes, treating them with love and respect. Not to do so would be to bring trouble and strife on the house and its inhabitants. Nowadays we treat our homes poorly. Often we allow them to become dirty, cluttered and neglected. And even when we do carefully maintain and preserve the home, we run into the danger of turning our homes into stuff, stilted places of fashion and decorum - they look good but they don't necessarily feel good. These "look-good" houses exist because we have left out one vital part of the equation: we have ignored the home's vital living energy, its spirit.
We cannot achieve true peace of mind and spirit unless we reconnect with our homes at this deeper level. Without a true home we have no barrier between us and the ever-increasing stress of everyday life and work.
And this is really how I feel, especially about the cookie-cutter houses that seem to pop up overnight in what once were fields of corn and soybeans. (Are the fields sprouting houses now, then?) You get your half acre and a house that looks like every else's--a box with plastic siding and brick veneer. You get your central air and heat and windows that seal out everything--including the sound of the dawn chorus. And inside those houses, you get furniture from Target or wherever, those slabs of pressed wood that have no soul.
Is it just because I grew up in an old, creaky house filled with antiques that I feel this way? Is it the old creaky house part? I think not; you can have a home with a new/er house; it just takes more time and effort to make it work. (And you can count apartments in here as well--the lady I bought a mandolin from way back when was a musician and you could tell the second you walked into her apartment. It was her home.)
But too many houses aren't homes. They are just extensions of society's demands--and products of the fashion magazines. It's the gleaming, empty countertops, the organized, sterile clutterless surfaces that hide the disorganized clutter of real life. Life isn't organized. Life isn't perfect, either.
I tend to always think that the people with immaculate, spotless homes are trying to compensate for something they think they lack. I'm not sure what it is--whether it has something to do with the way they grew up or some sort of overblown idea of what success really means (and maybe this is it--we are a nation obsessed with some vague idea of success) but I can't imagine why anyone would need two formal dining rooms and four bathrooms for themselves and their two children. For example.
I want to see some sign that the house is lived-in. That it's a home, rather than just a place that you sleep and eat. I want to see signs that you're maybe not the best housekeeper in the world, or that you don't really mind a spill on the floor or crumbs on the countertop from breakfast. I want to walk into your studio, or office, or craft room, and see works-in-progress or snips of fabric on the floor.
I want to see creativity instead of off the rack, cheaply made junk.
We encourage our children to be creative, but what happens when those children grow up and become adults? Nine times out of ten, I think, those children grow up expecting their lives to be as society warrants, and those lives don't really involve creativity. (I am talking about the 9-5 jobs, here. Sure, you can have a creative job, but for those of us who do the 9-5 to pay the bills and keep the creative stuff for after-hours, the majority of those in these jobs are mind-numbingly dull when they get home from work.
They get off work and go home, only to leave again to take their children to a soccer game, or baseball game, or whatever. They get home in time to fall asleep, and then it's the same old same old five nights out of seven. Or maybe seven out of seven.
When can you make a house a home when you're never home?
Or maybe they get off work and head home, but their favorite TV show is on, and they fill up their evenings watching TV, destressing, of course, and then off to bed. Maybe they'll plant a couple of plants in the springtime, because doesn't everyone?
Maybe they're into scrapbooking or stamping, because isn't everyone? Or the new fad, knitting! Because, isn't everyone? (Okay, I can forgive those people because that's a creative pursuit. I guess. (I'm on the fence about scrapbooking and stamping being actually 'creative', though. Knitting can be. At least you're making something useful, conceivably. And yes, I am biased! And yes, I once got sucked into the stamping craze! But there are only so many greeting cards you can make before you go absolutely nuts and spend all your hard-earned money on stamps and die a pauper!)
To make a house a home, you have to be home. You have to care about your home. You have to work with your home, and maybe you won't have a perfectly 1920s vintage bathroom, but it will work well enough for your needs. You should buy stuff for your home that matters to you; that reflects your taste, instead of buying just whatever because you need an end table there, so what does it matter?
(And, on a different note, why does everything have to match?!?!?!)
Actually, I think a lot of the issue has to do with money. As in, if you live in an 4000sf house with custom everything and a plasma TV and handmade whatever, then you must be successful and rich, no?
Okay, so this really isn't going anywhere. I have no ending. I have no solutions. And I really have to start on the craft show stuff before I write the morning away and kick myself later on for not getting more done today.
Just my thoughts for the morning, then. :)
Oh, and another link to read.
And a small confession: I always say hello and goodbye to my house when I come and go.