On the Other Side of Commitment

"What if this is my dream home?"

My wife asks this, more than half joking, talking back to the radio ad. The radio ad telling us we need more space, more bathrooms, more comfort, more privacy. More fresh sod and ensuites.

Is this an echo of constant calls to do what I love and quit the rest? To live the new american dream of entrepreneurship? To make something of myself and stop working for "the man"? 

Is this call to ‘more' a call to freedom? 

What if we already have what we want? 

I’m not saying I do, but is that even a possibility? To have all one wants? To not always be moving towards the next desire?

And maybe desire is a good thing. The great motivator. The monolith to propel human advance when we are too lazy and complacent to budge on our own.

Or maybe sometimes desire for the next robs us of the generous now.

This March marks 10 years in our little house. We have less than a thousand square feet on the main floor. Less than. There’s a basement too, but they don’t count that.


We do count the basement. We used to have a renter. Our family grew. Our kids could no longer share a room and actually sleep at the same time so we started thinking about a move. Or something. We didn’t have the money to move. We decided, instead of fleeing, to commit. To dig in. We would reclaim the basement. Invest in this house. Make it the house we could love.

Here is what lies beyond comittment.

We do love our little house. We took out a wall upstairs to make it feel more like those beautiful, open spaces they are always advertising in dream home ads. We saved up and renovated our kitchen. One by one we eliminated annoyances like the lack of usable counter space.

Just this winter we redid our basement. Or half of our basement. I just finished a workout down there. It is fast becoming a haven. A favourite spot. A place to read quietly in the morning or relax in the evening. A place, come this friday, to throw a party and welcome friends.

Everywhere I walk in this house I see evidence of work and love. Measurements marked up the door frame. Hand-painted celiengs and hand-made art on the walls. Flooring I installed and cupboards I built. Or, at least, assembled. Vintage treasures we have adopted, one by one, to build this home. 

Here is what you discover on the other side of commitment.

Through some alchemy of change and acceptance, the thing you have becomes the thing you want. Rough edges are sanded or overlooked. Downsides become lovable quirks and fantastic stories.

I now know that my old house is broken. Fatally broken, in some spots. Small cracks in the foundation. A furnace living its last years. A leak or two I haven’t stopped. A garage on the verge of collapse. 

On the other side of committment, I see flaws as opportunities for transformation, rather than cues to flee. 

The house will be made better, or I’ll learn to live with her, and be made better myself. 

I am becoming a bit of a handyman. Reluctant at first, but no more. It gives me great joy, to redeem something broken. To better something. To invest time and energy and stand back with the pride of accomplishment.

I know now how my home is broken. And I can live with these cracks and scars. I know what I’m working on. What we are working on. Where she shines and where she needs to hide. 

I accept this house, as is. And after 10 years, I know she’ll always welcome me. Home.

Perhaps this means I’ve finally learned to love?

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