Let me just start off with a quick disclaimer; contrary to popular belief, I have never built a house. So yes, there may be some speculation about the accuracy/efficacy of the analogy, but let’s just let that slide. I want to talk about how I would build my house, should that day ever come.
I think it’s safe to say that if I ever build a house for me and my family/friends/lovers/whathaveyou, I will take great care to build it “correctly.” I will not “phone it in” or cut corners (for those of you who know me well, can I get a #nohalfassness?!) If I am building a whole damn house, you can bet your booty I’m going to make sure I put in the work and do my best to make it the best it can be. After all, I’m going to be LIVING in this thing- likely for the rest of my life if I want to! Sure, it’ll change over the years and need to be redecorated. Maybe I’ll add something on or change the layout. Regardless of my plans for future change, I certainly won’t build it with the idea that the effort I exude at the front-end of things doesn’t directly affect how happy I am with it later. Why would I bother building something that is only going to last for a few years?
Makes sense, right? Cool. Now let’s flip the script right fast. What if, instead of a house, we talk about building a LIFE. Doesn’t it seem like a life is at least as important as the house you live in? Why, then, do we take the time and energy to be perfectionists when it comes to building a house but we passively waste the same time and energy letting life happen to us? There is no monetary value that can be attached to a rich life. Our experiences are our treasured decorations, our bodies are our walls, and our relationships to the world we live in are our foundations. We all have the choice of where we want to shop for materials.
Just as it is premature to decorate a house without a foundation, so is it foolish to expect to experience life without a solid base of support. We build from the ground up, from the inside out. Of all places in your home, this is the most important to take the time to be truly diligent to the art of perfection, and this is where it comes down to you. There is an odd irony in building the foundation of your life- you cannot do it alone, yet you (and you alone) have complete autonomy over the process. I struggle with the push and pull of independence and need. The challenge is to rise above this silly dichotomy and realize our foundation recipe calls for a bit of both. To need others is human nature, and to ignore this need is to succumb to societal pressure. When we admit we need others, it is so often seen as a weakness. Why? Would anyone question you for asking for help in laying the foundation of your house? No. Because you need help doing the things you’ve never done before. We love to be independent and associate this character trait with that of a real go-getter, a self-made individual, someone who don’t need no nothin’ from no one. That’s fine and dandy, but if you don’t know how to lay a foundation are you really going to just cob-job it for the sake of looking strong? To whom? No one looks at a house and says “Damn, you really laid a great foundation all by yourself.” Ask for help, invite some need into your life.
That being said, too much outside intervention can similarly cause unhappiness with the finished product. More important than needing help is knowing what kind of help you need and taking charge of the decision. The balance between independence and need is critical, and you are the only person that can control it. If you invite the wrong person to help your foundation, or if you allow someone who doesn’t serve your interests to push their way in, you may end up with a faulty base. When unfortunate things happen to us- when we find cracks in the concrete- it is up to us to let it heal. Every foundation is going to settle, and some will end up with cracks. It is up to you to make sure those cracks don’t spread.
After we establish our foundation (even if it means going back to basics and reevaluating a standing foundation), we get to move on to other things…like living. Do you still want to cut corners and deal with the consequences of your (in)actions later? Or do you want to grab this one, amazing, MAGICAL experience by the heart and GO with it?!