The Story of a House


Just after coming back from a lovely walk, a car slowed to a stop in front of my house.  I yelled out a “hello” and asked if he needed something.  He was a nice, Hungarian gentleman who went on to tell me that his name was Laslo and he had built our house with his bare hands in the 1950’s.  He said he had lived here for 20 years after he built it and raised a son here.  Every time he is in the area he takes a drive past the house, this time I just happened to be outside.  He told me that our house was the first one built on the street and that he used to walk to his job just up the road at a factory.  He explained that in the beginning, the house would flood when it rained because of the pitch of the driveway which was why he installed the sump pump at the base of the driveway.  He told me that he put a penny in every corner of the main room under the wood floor.

I invited him to come in and take a look to see what had changed in the house over the years.  I told him about the addition the previous owners had built and about how much we had done to the backyard.  He declined and even started to drive away when I mentioned it.  I think his memory served him well and he wanted to visit this place in his memory, not learn about what we had done to change things.  He looked over at my neighbor Pete, also Hungarian, who was in front of his house trimming the hedge.  He explained that Pete’s house was the second on the street and built in the 1960’s.  He said they knew each other back then and that they helped build the street we live on.  To my surprise, he never took a second glance at Pete or slowed his car as he passed him to offer a hello to his old neighbor.  When we were done talking he just took a long last look and drove away.

I went inside with new thoughts about my house, this place that I come home to every day without even thinking about it.  You get numb to your routine, you find comfort and settle in to a pattern.  So often we forget to be grateful for all of the things that surround us.  After meeting Laslo I took a new look around my house.  I became grateful for his hard work and his care of this house all those years ago.  I wondered who else had lived here since then and I realized that I was now a part of the story of this house.  Maybe someday I will drive past and tell my part of the story to a new family of how I raised my daughters here and spent countless, relaxing hours at the park right across the street.

People spend a lot of energy and time making their private space just the way they want it.  We leave our mark on the world with the way we live in those moments.  At home is where you relax and let it all go, hopefully.  I thought about how attached people become to their homes when really I think they are attached to the space in time represented by that house.  I don’t necessarily feel attached to the brick and mortar of this house, but rather I feel an affection for the times I have had here.  I’m grateful for the strength and integrity of the house itself, but it’s the memories and the time that I will carry with me long after I leave this place.  I have other special places like this as well, and something still makes me long to be in those spaces sometimes.  Being there helps me remember, feel, and even smell the memory from way back when…. and that is nice.

So, thank you Laslo, for coming by and paying a visit to your memory.  Thank you for reminding me that life goes on and that we should take time to be grateful along the way.

This is my mind space and that is your mind space.  The thoughts I hold in my head are my responsibility and the only one they hurt, or benefit, is myself.  The only person who can control, and clear, my mind space is myself.

I worry a lot and it doesn’t serve me well.  My worries are my training wheels and I’ve never been able to take them off.  Our problems and stressors make up who we are as much as our individual quirks and unique pasts.  Why do we cling to our problems and let them create who we are?  Is pain a crutch too easy to lean on that we can’t even consider letting go out of fear we will not be able to stand without them?  If I stop worrying about something will that alone make it happen?  Why is it so hard to let go and just be happy in the moment?

I’m ready to let it go.  I’m ready to be happy.  I want to take off my training wheels and I’m finally open to learning how to do it.  The first step was learning to calm and clear my mind.  Any time a negative thought, or any thought that I don’t want, sneaks into my head, I now mentally bat it to the side like I’ve reached the end of a line on an old typewriter.  Ding!  I let it go.  I visualize that thought flying out of my head and enjoy the peace that replaces it.  This works well in a quiet room by myself or in a state similar to meditation, but the next step is being able to put this into play during the chaos that makes up my daily life.  Although I haven’t quite mastered that part of it, I’m better off for having put this practice into play.  I’m able to enjoy a quiet mind more often and THAT is a win.

So once you leave the calm and serenity of your own physical space, the trick is to covet and protect your mind space in the same way.  Something I can take with me that has a lot of power over my thoughts is music.   Certain songs have the power to immediately change my thoughts.  Sometimes I know exactly which song I need to hear and other times I surf my favorite radio stations, but either way music has the power to clear and change my mind space.  Another thing that can propel me out of a moment quickly is a certain smell.  I’ve started to learn more about Aromatherapy lately.  I know now that it goes beyond that chance fleeting whiff of a cologne that reminds you of your high school boyfriend and being whisked away in your mind to those feelings
of teenage puppy love.  Different smells elicit different memories and feelings.  Some smells can actually have a strong effect on how we feel by tapping into the part of the brain responsible for regulating feelings, emotions, memory, learning, and physical drives.  The result can be sedating, relaxing, stimulating, or euphoric in effect.  A great place to learn more about Aromatherapy is Karma Healing Solutions.

I want to let go of my worries and start to move easier down this path toward being happy.  “If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.”  Ajahn Chah



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