Humming in My Universe, Philippine Star updated Nov. 18, 2012
By Jim Paredes
We are having renovations done at our home. The building we constructed some 18 years ago which became my office and recording studio is being torn down. It has seen its best and worst of times and we decided to demolish it completely.
We opted to do this after Ondoy unleashed so much water that flooded about a foot of the structure, destroying documents, equipment, furniture, memorabilia, and leaving the entire area permanently damp, mouldy and depressing. Prior to Ondoy, it had leaking walls that were being perenially repaired. It was time to tear it down. To leave it as is would be to condemn valuable space to something unliveable and even undesirable to enter. In its place we are building a two-storey structure that will be a kind of activity and recreation center where I will hold my workshops. It will also have two guest rooms on the second floor.
It seems strange to be adding this structure to our residence when our three kids are already living away. But as parents, we want to make sure that there will be enough room when the family gets together and for the times in the future when they visit with their new families in tow. Secretly, we wish that a newly renovated home will entice them to visit more often and stay longer.
There is something about construction that gets my wife Lydia excited. She is the kind who sees potential in any available space. She can picture structures, rooms, and her understanding of feng shui and how space flows into space is natural and correct. She knows what furniture to get and how to match them with decor. She appreciates layouts, fashion, and can pinpoint interesting areas in the plans, while it takes me awhile just to make sense of an architectural design. Even just getting my North and South bearings while looking at a layout is a major challenge.
Lydia has taken the lead in every construction, renovation or house repair we’ve had done in the past 35 years. I mainly set the budget and make sure everything is within what we can afford.
There is something more than meets the eye when people embark on a construction or a major renovation. It is like shuffling cards. One looks for new deals, or different configurations to continue to ‘play’. People look for a new setting to interact in, a new physical context and ambience to live the next portion of their lives in. And new rooms and renovations provide that.
And as in real life, there are many things one must do to get from one physical/psychological space to another. One must go through a process. Imagine being discontented with your life. You want things to change and you realize soon enough that more than the change happening outside of you, there is a greater call to change something inside you. That something needs to be deconstructed or torn down before anything can take its place.
Old beliefs, attitudes, biases and opinions that have long ago reached their expiration dates must be junked before new ones can come in. One must free not just a physical but more importantly, a psychological space before anything new can be accommodated.
When we were doing major renovations in our house a few years back, I had a miserable time. I hated the idea of not being able to use spaces I used to enjoy. I felt trapped, even claustrophobic, using a much smaller liveable space compared to what I had been used to. And it seemed like the construction would last forever. But slowly, as the house took on a new shape and look, I began to drop my resistance and started to appreciate the ‘new’ house that was coming to life before me.
The psychologist Carl Jung used the metaphor of construction in talking about therapy. He described therapy as something like a renovation. Everything is in a state of flux. There is so much dust in the air. The dust may hide what is going on but you can be sure that something is being fixed, repaired, given a new shape, feel and look, and most importantly, given new uses and functions.
How Lydia goes through the details with the architects is a sight to behold. Bit by bit, I see them discuss the project and how it will be put together, from the drawings, timeline, schedules, permits, materials to be used, colors, shades, textures, designs, touches, etc. I sit quietly in appreciation of the creativity that is unfolding before me. I am comfortable watching them plan everything since, from experience, I have learned to trust two things. One is, Lydia can be quite thorough and focused and will leave almost nothing to chance. Two, I know I can live anywhere, and so how things turn out is less important to me than it is to her. She likes and insists that things be a certain way, and works at it. She takes charge. She is the quality control expert.
Spaces are where lives unravel so it is important how they are laid out. Somehow, the houses we have lived in were more or less happy places that were not only homes to our family but also invited people in. Every house we have staked as our home has had a large share of visitors – people have dropped by, slept over and even stayed for various periods.
Somehow, people are at home and find comfort in our homes, for which we are grateful.
Sad is a huge house that never becomes a real home. Bereft of the soul of its inhabitants, they are cold abodes that do not go beyond the function of simply providing roofs and spaces for its residents. Lacking in warmth and hospitality, the walls do not speak of the many stories that have transpired there. They are functional structures with no soul.
I am confident that this new structure rising at the back of our property will be a natural setting for creativity, bonding and many fun activities that will bring luck and happiness and store good memories for us. Lydia’s efforts will guarantee that. It will not be just a building but a home as well. It will be an awesome place for all who come and visit. Mostly, I am excited at the prospect of our kids, and our grandchildren playing and sleeping there.