How to Build a Home

There are at least two ways to enter the field of imagination so that something can unfurl its wings there. We can develop a vision of what we hope to create and push it out of the nest, into the world of physical constructs. Or we can take a walk out into the field and open ourself to whatever arises from our undeveloped vision–allowing the imagination to pull along whatever arises. In that latter case, since it may take the rest of our life to build anything, we may want to consider living there while it is under construction.

The approach of pushing a well-formed vison into a space of implementation is the predominant one used in any kind of construction where things have to fit together piece by piece. The second approach, of creating something in the flying moment, is also familiar to most of us. For instance, we may make something for breakfast without a lot of forethought: we just open the fridge and start pulling out whatever is appealing, available, and involves an acceptable amount of effort to prepare.

Since I have never built a house and don’t plan to, this is a metaphor for any persistent vision that offers imagination and concern a seat at the table of daily life. The following could be treated as a how-to-manual, although no real hammer is required:

Start by placing your favorite easy chair on a plot of land with a nice view and with the amenities you most value close by; sit down in the chair and envision where the fireplace should be in order that when the cold winds of winter are blowing outside, the hearth is not so close that you’ll singe your socks and not so far away that you’ll have to keep your parka zipped up to the chin when you come in from chopping wood. Speaking of outside, as you look around, from the comfort of your easy chair, this may be a good time to consider where you want a window so that it can take in the sky, the distant mountains and any groves of trees nearby. While you’re at it, if it feels right and you feel ready, give some thought to where there should be walls, so that you will have a kitchen, a bedroom or two, a table to eat at, and—depending on the condition of your legs and your social connections–whether you want a second story and a place to entertain.

Since you’ve elected to let your design follow the flow of the flying moment, you don’t want to get stuck in your easy chair dreaming of how nice this unbuilt house is going to be and how friends and strangers alike are going to be so impressed with it. It’s best to remember that if you don’t start creating something as soon as an impulse invites you into its secret world, you might as well have created a blueprint before picking up hammer and nails at the local hardware store. You are now following a different road. As soon as you have an image of where the hearth should be and how big a window you want so that there is an opening from the interior of the house to a wider world beyond, you should start collecting rocks and piling them up where the fireplace and chimney are going to be; then find a stick of the right length to mark where the window is going to be and how wide you’d like to make it.

You’re the best judge of your own mind and therefore most familiar with the pitfalls waiting to sabotage your intentions. Give yourself a fighting chance to circumvent those lurking liabilities and keep in mind that you are building a door to the hidden dimensions of your own being, while living in a world for which you deeply care.

For me the hole in the sidewalk into which I keep stepping is an internal voice that considers anything that requires energy, confidence and more knowledge than I presently possess to be beyond my capacity to start, let alone finish. This voice, so ready to promote discouragement, is the reason that I need to start actually working on something once an impulse to do so arises. If I don’t, then the more grandiose my vision becomes, the less able I feel of carrying it out. Realizing that my intentions will only come into focus once I take steps toward realizing them, I am called into a realm where vision and implementation are both equally at home.

There could be an appendix to this how-to-manual. For instance, once you reach the point of pouring a cement foundation, be sure to remove the easy chair and put it outside the house that you are now building in earnest. There are too many buildings built around the perspective from which they were first conceived; with their easy chairs still sitting in the dirt and everything else in the new creation abutting up against them. So, wherever you started, let that beginning earn its place in a creation that didn’t really come from either of you.

The flying moment will one day draw a coda over all our dreams, like a blanket of time and memory into which no more threads will be woven. That is as it should be. If there were no endings for the plans and hopes that we unfailingly bring with us on any new undertaking, how could we ever start anything? An easy chair is just the accidental artifact which we will need to put to one side if anything organic is to wing its way out of the hidden depths.

And if we should be swept off the embankment at the edge of the river, we can thank our lucky stars that we are now being carried along in the flowing stream from which all good things are born.

4 comments to “How to Build a Home”
  1. I love that you elaborated on the original idea. It helps that you apply this to creative endeavors. I can readily find a niche in both the blueprint method and the visionary approach. I took to heart your advice to just begin.

  2. I’m wondering if it’s time to pick up my easy chair and move it somewhere. Not too far away .The question is where.

  3. Hi Michael,
    I like the ‘easy-chair’ metaphor for the idea of relaxing or easing into a plan, or for inviting inspiration for when one wishes a structure to cohere around a creative endeavor. So, as to how I approach the impulse to express something… I most certainly seem to rely on past knowledge, and sometimes that means waiting for the past knowledge to catch up with the present, because my memory isn’t all it used to be, and there’s so much more stuff in the past to filter through. Of course, that’s my ‘self’ being the ‘doer’ of expression.

    This is where the easing part can play an essential function, that is, when I relax my doing and pushing of my mind toward a point, or direction… I let go, relax, ease into the present moment, settle into a less pressurized level, a deeper level where more space is available and thoughts are not proliferating and I’m not constantly judging what arises. That clearing of the mental deck, so to speak, invites possibilities to percolate up that I had not considered, the usual surface coagulation’s of ‘minding’ have disappeared and real creativity and inspired arisings are free to float up into awareness.
    David 🖖🍂

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