My house has no spirits.
We don’t ascribe to all that can be read in the many books of feng shui that can be found in nearly any bookstore. I have a few on my own shelves, as well. But even those we don’t follow. Not really.
It seems what is right in one culture is not so in another. What one country, or one people, think is bad luck, not beneficial, may bring blessing in another. I, for instance, very much like exposed beams. The feng shui books tell me to cover them or, at the very least, to place a flute or staff in the rafters. They advise us in the use of fortune corners and love corners and corners for this, that and the other thing.
Nearly none of which we follow.
But we do follow the principles behind these rules, the concept of space and the flow of energy, the movement of people and air, light and sound in a home. And so, our corners are softened with long sticks of bamboo, a didgeridoo or a tall flute. None of our furniture protrudes past walls to block a walkway or into a hall, we don’t have our windows covered with furniture. Our kitchen table is not in view of the bathroom. That’s just makes sense if you think about it, but many homes have bathrooms right next to the kitchen. “Excuse me,” you say, getting up from dinner with friends, walking to the bathroom five feet away so the dinner guests can wonder whether that is the kitchen sink or your toilet running. Some guests won’t use a bathroom in view or earshot of the table. And the sound a toilet flushing is so very appetizing.
We do have a mirror in view, up high, at the top of the wall you see as you walk into the house. It confuses spirits who don’t belong in the house. Or so the theory goes.
Spirits. There is the central idea. The spirits of the house. What makes them comfortable and allows the household spirits to live in harmony with the house and the land and the more corporeal inhabitants? Find the answer to that and you have feng shui. And this is what the feng shui books try to tell us with their compasses and diagrams and rules. But the spirits in my house are not Chinese spirits. I need the spirits in my house to be happy, not the ones in China.
But my house has no spirits.
I came to this realization this evening while listening to a television program that had a brief reference to feng shui. It hit me, suddenly and strangely, my house had no spirits. And I started to cry. Just a little, but the tears were there and a deep sense of sadness within.
When we looked at this house, it was what we could afford. It was what we could get financed for. Not too old, newly refitted with the type of contractor-grade carpeting and paint and fixtures one would expect slapped into a home to make it salable. We weren’t blind to that. We needed a house we could move into then, not later, and didn’t have the money just then for repairs.
The house we wanted, twenty thousand more and needed twenty thousand in repairs, felt alive. We wanted it. But we had a month to move in unless we wanted to renew our lease for a year which removed that house as an option. But it was vibrant and alive. It had spirit. Or spirits. Or both.
So we bought the house ready to move into, the one we could afford. We said, before long, we’d make it ours. That was three years ago
So far, we ripped out the carpet. It became stretched and beyond usable within the first year. We cleaned the terrazzo beneath but still have not repaired the nail holes. We painted the master bedroom, but that was a year ago and we still haven’t removed some of the blue painter’s tape. We painted my office. We used the best canister vacuum on all the house’s carpets and floors alike, we had to get this place spotless. We bought a used but comfortable couch but that is it as far as furniture. We had many plans to green the home, to make it more ecologically friendly, but, other than the ducts and insulation, which were paid for by Florida Power and Light, and changing all the light bulbs, we’ve gone as far as we will. We compost, but there is no will to garden here. The plans for green are gone.
Gone also are the plans to close in the carport, to move a wall and enlarge the living room, to screen in the patio so we can enjoy dinner outside. Gone are so many plans I can’t even remember most of them. Many low-cost. It’s not for want of money. We just don’t care.
We don’t even want to put screws back into the light switch. There’s just no motivation. None.
And no spirits either.
We sensed something wrong after we moved in. My wife, perhaps, before we moved in. But we didn’t know quite what it was or even what to do with it. This seemed our only option. We took it.
And it feels strange. We lived in trailers we liked. We kept them well and fixed them, improved them, made the homes.
Our home in Gainesville, smaller than this by far, was alive. The land was alive. The trees were alive. We improved, changed and enlarged that home. Pulled carpet and placed wood floors. Made wood baseboard, hung our cast iron from hooks in the kitchen ceiling, built small wood decks at the front and back doors to catch the dirt as one came in, planted trees, built stone circles, hung parachutes, made gardens. The house was happy. The spirits were happy. We were happy. Still we miss that house.
But here? I think of the houses I have been in through Palm Bay and Melbourne. Some empty and void, some alive. Nice houses empty. Some not so nice ones, full of life. Vitality seemingly having nothing to do with the youth or state of the house.
So what to do? Toward the ocean? To a creek? Across town? We aren’t sure, but something has to change. Soon.
We miss the life. We miss the happy spirits. It’s time to move.