I mentioned my dream house in my last post. I’d like to explain about that.
My purpose in life is not to build myself a giant house. The thought of having to clean it is not an issue since having the means to build the house would almost mean having the support to look after it.
No, I am a perpetual furniture re-arranger. Barely a week goes by that I’m not flipping a room this way or that, looking for a new feel, a better outlook. Drives my men nuts!
My ‘house’ is a set of floor plans that I designed – or started to design – when I was about 18. Yes, it’s big. But it’s efficient. No wasted space. Rooms and areas for specific tasks and interests. Views and windows, hi-tech features and down-home comfort. There are details that I incorporated long before they were invented – windows that automatically open and close with the weather, in-floor heating, a lap pool in the basement that doubles as the reservoir for the fire sprinkler system. All things I figured would be standard by the time I ever achieved the success I needed to build it.
Oddly, now, so many years later, it’s funny how much of that house has come true.
I designed it with a master bedroom and five bedrooms, some of which connect via bathrooms a la Brady Bunch style. I now have a husband and the exact number and configuration of children to fill all of those bedrooms, perfect right down to the boys sharing a bathroom, the girls sharing another, and the middle child, who shares nothing with anyone, holding her own.
The kitchen shows a table and chairs that you wouldn’t be able to find in any furniture store. During one of those summers that the plans spent packed in a box, I unconsciously built us a new kitchen set that turned out to be identical to that in the plans. It was the kids who pointed that out the next time the drawings made it back up on the wall.
Visitors to our home can’t help but notice the blueprints. They’re out in the open in my office as they enter. It is an impressive house, but it’s the details that grab. It’s also quite a fun place. I have placed post-it notes on Alex’s Office, the Music Room, the Crafting Room, and the Foyer that all say ‘You Are Here.’ (My current ‘office’ also houses the piano, my crafting supplies, and an oversized coat rack.)
The only drawback to having the plans out on display all the time like this is that inevitable comment, “Oh, you’ll just need to win the lottery, then.”
I sigh. “No,” I say patiently. “This is not a lottery house. This is a working house.”
What surprises me then is how many people just don’t get it.
This is a dream. A goal. I can’t win it. Winning it would devalue the entire purpose. This house must be earned.
My kids pout every time they hear me say this. Like there’s a better chance of winning the lottery than of Mommy making it big. Nice.
I’ve come to learn though, that it’s not the house that’s the goal. It’s what the house means that matters. What the house represents is what’s important.
For me to build that house, I had to have made one of my ideas work.
For that idea to work, it had to involve a lot of other people. It had to help other people. It had to make a positive difference. It had to be born, to grow, and to mature. It had to spawn other dreams, and other ambitions, and branch out into other areas of life and learning that I hadn’t imagined when I started. I had to grow and to learn and to evolve.
For that idea to work, I would have had to achieve balance in my life. Balance that would turn that dream house into a home beyond anything I could possibly deserve.
I am starting to realize that the dream house is not the goal, but the journey.
One of my adopted kids asked me one day why I keep the plans out in full view where everyone can see them. “Aren’t you embarrassed that people will think you’re an idiot?”
“No,” I told him. “The plans stay out so I keep working to get that house.”
Quietly he asked what the chances were that we would ever see it. “Mom,” he said, “if we had a hundred chances to get that house, how many times would we get it?”
I smiled at him – proud of his sudden grasp of probability.
“One,” I told him.
He sat in his chair looking completely deflated. He’d moved in feeling pretty excited about that house.
“But think about it a minute. Let’s say I put a hundred cards on the table, face down. 99 cards say, ‘Too Bad, Try Again.’ But 1 card, only one, says, ‘You Get the House.’ Would you start turning cards over?”
“How many cards would you turn over?”
“Until I found the house.”
“Exactly. So maybe you have to turn over 99 cards before you find the house. Or maybe you only have to turn over 2. Or 15. Or 23. But so long as you know that card is in there, you’ll keep turning over the cards, right?”
“Yeah,” he agreed.
“Now, what if I told you there was no ‘house’ card on the table?”
“I wouldn’t even bother,” he admitted.
“That’s why I keep the plans in front of my face. If the house is in my mind, there’s one card on the table. If I put the house away, there’s none. And I stop trying.”
He rolled this over for a minute, finally nodding. Then one last question.
“What if you never find the ‘house’ card?”
“It’s not about finding the card, Babe. It’s about looking for it.”