August 2011


The Zen of Building: Philosophical Encouragement

by Dorothy Ainsworth

Building a house needn't be an intimidating undertaking. It is simply an organic process of assembling some of earth's most basic elements into geometric forms to create the microcosm we call home. Trees supply the wood, iron supplies the nails, silicon sand provides the glass, copper carries the current, wood and natural gas supply the heat, concrete is rock, and water flows freely in and out by gravity. It's all very elementary and almost primitive. It only gets complicated when we aspire to arrange these elements into a structure that satisfies our aesthetic taste; otherwise we'd be happy to live in a hut.


The real fun of building one's own house is designing it. The rest is good old hard work, which has its own priceless rewards. My message is this: Life is tenuous so enjoy the journey! Nature is capricious and has the ability to disassemble the whole thing in a few short minutes or hours by turning it into a pile of splintered sticks, washing it away in a flood, or burning it into lumps of carbon and melted metal---as happened to me when my house burned down in 1995---but I still believe what I said a couple of years later: "It's better to have built and rebuilt than never to have built at all."

Enjoy the work! No matter how it turns out, you will be forever changed in a positive way by the experience.