Since I have much less energy than I did even a year ago, I am no longer up for a “Dutch spring cleaning.” However, since I am still Dutch and still have the cleanliness value in my genes, I still get the urge when spring rolls around. So I am finding little tasks to fill my need to clean. Recently, I decided to clean the glass and frames around several pieces of art in my home. As I rejoiced in brightening colors and dustless frames, I noticed that I have four pictures of isolated and abandoned houses in my home.
One is a deserted home with a large “eyebrow” window and a roof of cedar shakes set between two large trees in a front yard gone wild and beautiful with Shasta Daisies. Another is a brown wooden houseboat on a large pond or river. A pale sun floats in a hazy fog which surrounds the pond. A man sits on the front porch, fishing, I think. As I was cleaning this picture, I thought, “I don’t want to fish, but I surely would love to sit out on that porch in the middle of the water.”
The third painting is by Andrew Wyeth. The focal point is a discarded boat, but it sits in front of a deserted home in the middle of a field. The final picture is a white structure which could be a church or school because it is topped by a bell in a small steeple. The structure desperately needs scraping and painting, but it is surround by fruit trees dressed in pink and white blossoms. All of these buildings and their settings warm my soul.
I also love TV shows about “tiny houses” which are popular among people who want to downsize their mortgage and rent costs, their piles of stuff, and their busy lifestyles. Some of these houses are built on wheels so they can be easily pulled by vacationers or people who re-locate often for work. Others are on trailers that can be moved by commercial trucks. Both types can be easily disguised by landscaping and decks. To qualify as a “tiny house,” a home must be less than 500 square feet. Most are under 300 square feet! If I were alone, I would love to live in a tiny house near a grove of trees with flower-friendly soil. Houses like the one pictured above also warm my soul.
I have pondered why I have so many pictures of isolated, yet memory-laden, houses and why the phenomenon of tiny houses attracts me. I am beginning to get some clues. I have been an introvert my entire life; being with people is draining. (I have learned that teaching can be energizing, though I am exhausted as soon as the people leave the room.) So living in an isolated, yet beautiful space, would be delightful to me – even in a tiny house.
Also, simplicity has been a spiritual discipline in my life for years now. Downsizing closets and cabinets and knickknacks and stuff (although obviously not pictures – or books yet) has made life much easier. The fewer things I have, the less time I have to spend cleaning, re-organizing, or disposing of them. And the more meaningful the things I have kept becomes. There is a lot to be said for curating stuff – and curating a life.
I think that the journey I began years ago to unclutter my mind is the most important reason that these all these houses are attractive to me. Letting go of the past and learning not to predict the future has left me with a lot more brain space and soul power. I am learning and understanding more – and faster – than I did decades ago because I am understanding how not to obsess over what is not in my control. Perhaps I am now yearning to make my outside surroundings match what my inside environment has become.