(The first of three related posts.)
In America, real estate is the single largest sector of the Gross National Product (GNP) other than government.
Forty-four per cent of ALL wealth in the United States exists in the form of residential real estate. Only maintaining a stable society is of greater priority to Americans than shelter.
But it’s still a chicken or the egg issue because war and social unrest are notoriously hard on our real estate.
We support the maintenance of order through the rule of law partly because of a primeval desire to protect our most intimate of environments - the home.
Our preoccupation with finding and maintaining suitable shelter is quite ancient. Homes were central in the lives of human beings long before civilization arose.
And finding and maintaining suitable shelter was a critical priority for a broad variety of organisms on our planet for hundreds of millions of years before our kind evolved.
Many animals besides man either carry their houses around with them - or like us - construct homes that are so critical to their well-being that they cannot exist without them.
Macrotermes termite societies cannot survive outside the towering structures they build. They have become so dependent on the environments they create that one leading physiologist consider their mounds “external organs” of their bodies.
(See The Extended Organism by J. Scott Turner on my Amazon widget below right.)
Legions of other organisms are equally dependent upon their built environments and upon other organisms who share those homes with them. "Home" is an adaptive evolutionary strategy that has been adopted by thousands of species on our planet.
But what about us?
Think for a moment what would happen to human societies if the structures that we have built were suddenly to disappear.
Civilized nations are the result of complex interdependent systems of relationship - economic, political, cultural, techological and others - that are utterly embedded in our built environment.
Our buildings and tools have become like external organs of our physical bodies.
Like our skin they protect us from the elements.
Like our brains, they organize our thoughts and store our memories.
Like our arms and legs they move us through the world and allow us to manipulate our surroundings.
This can happen only because we intuitively relate to those aspects of our environment as parts of our selves. Consider what percentage of us would survive if that built environment suddenly disappeared!
Studies have shown that our brains react to our shadows as though they are part of our bodies. When we associate objects and conditions in our environment with emotional experiences in intimate ways, we begin to own the features of the environment in which those experiences happened, and they own us in return.
Our homes are distinct physical objects and not part of our bodies - but deep inside - that is not generally how we feel. If our home is attacked, we react as though the assault is aimed at us.
Our bodies have “fuzzy boundaries.” Our experience of “self” does not end at our skin. Much of who we think we are lives outside our immediate bodies, in the world around us, and it has been this way for so long we seldom think about it.
Our homes are no longer simply structures we use to protect ourselves from the elements. They have become representations of who we are. They tell our personal stories and show others who we are and what we value.
They express our unique priorities, cultural traditions and family histories.
They demonstrate in a real and palpable way how we think, what we feel and what we hold dear.
The ancient human quest for "home" has changed over time and become a more intimate tale. From the sanctuary of our homes, we connect to the world around us and all living things within it.
Home is the place we "come from" physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
I believe when you decide to design and build a new home, remodel your current home, or redecorate...you create an opportunity for transformational change in your life.
I believe your home can and should be the center of your life experience...the single place where you feel safest and most in control of your circumstances...the place on this earth where you most profoundly "belong."
It should be a place that nurtures and supports you and your family. It should be tailored to "fit" and empower each inhabitant's unique emotional needs, life goals and personal preferences.
Accomplishing that goal is the purpose of exploring this discussion on this blog, why I started my Internet start-up, and a central passion of my life.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
(The first of three related posts.)