"It seems to me that whether it is recognized or not, there is a terrific frustration which increases in intensity and harmfulness as time goes on, when people are always daydreaming of the kind of place in which they would like to live, yet never making the place where they do live into anything artistically satisfying to them. Always to dream of a cottage by a brook while never doing anything to the stuffy house in the city is to waste creativity in this very basic area, and to hinder future creativity by not allowing it to grow and develop through use."
- The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
I put this quote up on the Ordinary Time facebook page yesterday, but I wanted to be sure everyone had a chance to see it. I love this book. If I had to limit my library to a very few volumes, this is one book that would make the cut. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to get a copy and do so.
The idea of not living in the present, but waiting until some fictional, future time to do everything one wants is pervasive in our society. We are all so busy working toward and waiting for this fictional future that we forget to enjoy the present. And more often than not, the fictional future never materializes and we are left with a lot of disappointment. Kind of depressing, huh?
But it doesn't have to be because we can decide to live in our actual present and work with what we have. It is so tempting to think, "Oh, if only __________ were different then life would be great." Or some variation of this idea. If my kitchen were bigger (nicer, newer, brighter) then I would cook dinner more often. If my yard were sunnier then I would grow my own vegetables. If I had more storage then I would never have to pick up toys again. If my house were bigger (nicer, newer, brighter) then I would invite people over.
Edith Schaeffer is reminding us to something about our situation now. That we can use our creative powers to make a home we want to live in and have it be the actual home we are living in. Notice she doesn't say spend money to make it nicer, but to use our God-given creative abilities to create a home we can be content with. Sometimes the most satisfying creative endeavors come from using what we have at hand. Sure it would be easier to go out and just buy what we want, but it's not quite as satisfying to my way of thinking.
It is the habits of thought and action that we create now which will determine how we function in our future. If a person suddenly finds themselves with a gourmet kitchen if they haven't developed the habit of cooking, the gourmet kitchen isn't going to suddenly endow them with the skills and desire. If a person does happen to move to a larger home that can easily accommodate guests, without the habit of hospitality inviting people over will still seem scary and intimidating.
Begin to develop the habit of creativity now. How can you make your living space as nice as possible within your time and budget? How can you make your lives as peaceful as possible? How can you do God's work with what you have right now? Do not wait for your external circumstances to be perfect before doing what you long to. Start now. Otherwise you run the chance of looking back and regretting all the lost time while you were waiting to begin your 'real' life.