Tuesdays are Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets
I love Michael Pollan’s books on food – they have been very thought-provoking, and really, transformational for me. His ideas challenge me and help me grow. And the guy can really write.
So when a local Borders, closing down, had two non-food-related, Michael Pollan books discounted I nabbed them. I just finished the first, “A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams.” I liked it.
Like me, Michael Pollan lives in a land of words with big mountains of ideas and rivers of books thrown in. His relationship to the physical world sounds very akin to mine “a nice place to read about” (I made that up – not a quote from him!).
So when he got the idea to not only have a writing house on the back of his property – but to (gasp!) build it with his own hands – well, that was a truly revolutionary idea. His wife referred to the ‘oxymoronic phrase’ “Jewish handyman.” Well, I’m not Jewish, but I think I could belong to that club. No.Discernible.Fixit.Skills.
The book explores the whole venture – from idea, through working with an architect to design the writing house, and then through all the phases of working with his builder-mentor/sidekick, Joe.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, given my total lack of skill and interest in handyman-ish activities. When I was in my 20s, the Great Teacher, Poverty, had me even fixing my own VW bug as well as all manner of household calamities. When my toolbox would come out, my then-partner would try to find a place to hide. It was always an expletive-laden, emotive experience. Not fun. When I got a little money in my 30s two things happened – I switched from crappy American beer to Becks and I paid people to fix things. I’ve long since walked away from the former, but I’m very happy still, paying people to make problems go away.
But READING about someone else learning how to make windows from scratch (really?) was enjoyable!
And what was even more enjoyable was getting some of the architectural history and a sense of WHY things as they are. Some of the nearly-hermeneutical philosophical turns really had me thinking – from nuances of Feng Shui to “another path along which time finds its way into our buildings, working somewhere beneath the consciousness of architects and builders and inhabitants, but shaping our dreams of place all the same.” – wow, right?
What I love about Michael Pollan, besides his beautiful writing, is how he deconstructs such ordinary, quotidian things – food, houses – and finds not only the beauty and grace – but also the soul, and the deeper meaning. After reading one of his books, one has new eyes. A meal, a walk in a neighborhood (windows! roofs! view! chi!) are all the richer for having read him.
And lastly, the whole ‘writing cottage’ idea just struck me as delightful. As he himself says, a sort of masculine take on Virginia Woolf’s “room of One’s own”. It made me want a writing/meditation space that was uniquely mine. How about you? Do you have a “room of your own”? A space where you get to be most like your own self, and whose every nook & cranny reflects YOU? Tell us about it!