Indulge me again, please, as I write once more about our renovation. This time, though, not to complain about the chaos and the disruption or its deadening effect on my creative output, but instead to share a few lessons I’ve learned from the experience that I think will stay with me long after the last nail is hammered.
During the planning phase of things I lost track of the number of times I said, “I don’t know if we can do this but . . . “ to our contractor. His answer was almost always preceded by a deep chuckle, “Well, we can do just about anything.” Of course, as we dug into whatever the issue at hand was, the trade-offs in doing that one thing were soon revealed, but still that difference in opening mindset is pretty powerful. The man’s occupation sort of requires him to dwell in the world of infinite possibility – at least as a starting point – and I have come to learn over our months working together that it’s his natural inclination. It can be a bit catching, and it’s definitely an expansive way to be.
I plan to put it into practice especially when I feel up against a wall, and shift my internal dialog from that timid, “I don’t even know if I can do this . . . but” to the far more powerful and potent, “well, I can do just about anything.” It’s so obvious to me now that I am destined to fall far short of my desired mark if I back away from it before I even begin to problem solve. By starting from that bigger vision of what I wish to accomplish and then trading off and making changes to bring things into scope, if and as required, rather than start my thinking from a place of internal compromise, I’ll more likely end up with a finished product or decision that comes much closer to my true desire.
The even bigger revelation of the project, though, has been a shift in my perception about what is fixed – really fixed – and unchangeable. I have lived in this house longer than any other, and I pay close attention to her. Over the years I have internalized her contours and the rhythms of this space. I know when and where the light will be at certain times of day and at different times of year. This house has been the frame for my reality going on two decades, and today so much of it feels radically different and far beyond what I could have imagined even a few months ago when we were deep into demolition.
We’ve still got a bit of work ahead before we’re truly finished, but I already see us all using our home differently. And this bigger lesson, about internalizing the boundaries around you and assuming their immutability when, in fact, they aren’t, makes me wonder how much really is fixed – metaphorically speaking. I’m beginning to suspect it’s far less than I walk through life assuming, and I know I need to ask that question far more frequently of myself.
The impact of this new perspective on my photography has yet to be seen, but this shift feels rather tectonic, like the kind of internal change that has all sorts of ripple effects. I’m looking forward to the end of sawdust and construction noise, and equally to seeing how this fresh sense of possibility will manifest itself in my photography.
Keep your eyes wide open,