In thinking about what I want to accomplish and discussing it with a colleague I made this declaration.
I want everyone to look at their own home with the eye of an explorer.
It is a brief enough statement but what does it mean?
I want…this should probably be read as:
“I want to make…”
“I want to help…”
“I want to teach…”
or better yet “I want to inspire…”
Is merely wanting people to change their perceptions what I am attempting to express? Or is their another phrase meant to direct my actions? If there is a verb missing somewhere, what is it?
What do I use to make/help/teach/inspire?
everyone: it is either a disgustingly vague assertion or an impossibly huge endeavor. Everyone!
“I want everyone…” Presumptuous, isn’t it? Who are they? How do I reach them?
to look at: I do not only mean “to look”. I also mean to touch, to hear, to taste, to sense your place. Looking, the eye, are devices in my own expression not limitations on possible future experiences.
their own home: This is more than their domicile. This would be any space identified as theirs: the domestic space, the building, the street, the neighborhood, the town, the city, the state, the nation. Any place that arouses their loyalty and affection. That feeling of intimacy is necessary if developing this vision is to have a deeper purpose. Mostly, I am thinking of the spaces closest to us, the ones we know the best, the answer to the question “Where are you from?”
with the eye: Not the eyes, the eye. This implies an alteration of the mind and a redirection of the heart. This would not only be an increase in the absorption of details but also an increase in appreciation.
of an explorer: If we are developing the eye and deepening our affection for home what else do we need to prevent parochial attitudes, exclusion, blind partisanship, and the denigration of other places and experiences? We need a measure of detachment. We need context. We need to be an explorer, not a conqueror or a colonizer but an observer in the field. We need to seek greater understanding and new experiences to prevent our vision from slowly sinking into a lazy aestheticism and nostalgia. It is necessary to attempt to understand how things function. Their purposes and who they serve. Their origins and the sources of their longevity and power or their degradation and decline. We need an understanding that gets beyond “this is lovely and good and will, of course, last forever” and “this is terrible but nothing can be done but to leave.”
My idealized explorer sees causes and effects but does not interfere; the citizen, the home maker, the resident, the neighbor how would they behave if they could see what the explorer sees? Would they work to maintain what is good? Those places and traditions that serve not only themselves but as many other people as possible?
Would this new vision prompt them to preserve history, buildings, and materials? Inspire creativity and deter wastefulness?
I think this is the hope and purpose behind the original statement. The question arises again: How?