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My son’s girlfriend likes the singer songwriter Noah Kahan. So now we all like Noah Kahan. Or at least we have a Spotify level of familiarity with his crooning repertoire. I have become quite fond of one or two of his songs in particular. I now know them by heart and ratchet up the singalong when either one cycles back to the top of the playlist. 

And he is from New England. Vermont. The state in which I have spent the second most amount of time in my life. He flawlessly captures the essence of that northern experience, especially in winter, explaining, if not forgiving, his introductory outlook on the world.  It’s like we’re practically best friends, we have so much in common.

“If I get too close. If I’m not how you hoped. Forgive my northern attitude, I was raised out in the cold. If the sun don’t rise ‘til the summertime forgive my northern attitude oh, I was raised on little light”

For me a gleeful recognition. Of course! I too am a child of winter. Of the north. Of the determination to muster through the austerity of the “season of the sticks” only to crave it again in the intense, soggy heat of mid-August. A renewed awareness that where I have spent my days nurtured me into my being, in equal part to my DNA mold.

I suspect these geographic explanations to be true for many of us. We may unwind what was originally wound into our being but, nonetheless, have pieces of us defined by required tolerances, assumed circumstances, nuanced assimilations…simply from what once just was. Nothing to question; just a way to exist.

The deeper into this analogy I get, the meatier the commentary on the work required, then, to question our presets. To acknowledge, but then not excuse, what comes from settling in too easily to being what we know. It can be comforting, no doubt. But can lack a broader acceptance that our reality, despite how all encompassing it seems, is actually quite limited to the illusionary boundaries of security.

This is a piece of why I love our work as builders. Some might categorize renovation as fulfilling wants or needs, and, I suppose, they are. But inside all that is the willing abandonment of familiarity. And that takes courage. Because it is much more comfortable to stay inside the bounds of what is. 

Changing your style, your footprint, your routine. Changing a window, an entry, the position of the bed. Changing the way the light comes through, the way the heat gets distributed, the way the walls get insulated. 

These kinds of adjustments change the experience of your life. Force you to define more deeply who you really are. Begin to disown what you used to revere if only because that was the singular choice.

This gives me a bit of hope I suppose. That ideologies can become unselected if found in a different context. That ways of being can come from given circumstances but that, with awareness, can be as easily altered. 

That if vision, an architect, and a builder can so profoundly clarify who you want to be in this world, imagine what else one could shed to live a little more closely to truth.

There I go again, crooning with a deeper narrative. Where’s my friend Noah? Does anyone have an acoustic guitar and a microphone? 

All my best,