I have a wonderful outdoor project going on right now…decks, pergolas, sheds…(oh my!). As I was thinking about how I was going to share this project (one post or several), it occurred to me how unnerving it would be to share a real project in real time. You see, this project has been going on forever, or so it seems. And it will not be finished for months. If HGTV or any blog shared with you a project in real time it would spark a riot of boredom or at the very least social unrest. (Yelp, pun intended.)
And therein lies the rub…life is not reality TV. Even reality TV isn’t reality! Let’s take the most reasonable of all reality TV as an example…HGTV. I love HGTV, but it is so not reality. While, yes, the projects are real, the timing and costs are completely fictitious. How many of you know of anyone who completes any project in just two days? I can’t even get a contractor to return a call in two days!
So all of this got me wondering about what would happen if you saw a real project in real time for a real cost. That kind of TV, magazine spread, or blog would be out of business in a heart beat. We want instant results…instant gratification. We are just too much in a hurry to carry out this illusion of a life we seek.
This delusional thinking particularly affects my line of work. Clients want “House Beautiful” landscapes in a matter of a month. This, so course, includes all of the design plan creation and its execution. (These kind of clients have obviously watched way too much reality TV!) Landscaping and gardening are art forms. They take time and as with all art processes, there is a lot of trial and error. As a landscape designer I fret incessantly over the planting plan. Is it the right plant…the right place…the right combination…is there a better choice…what will it look like in the different seasons or even a year from now…two years…five years…and on and on.
I read a wonderful post this morning on a blog that I follow: Grounded Design by Thomas Rainer. He questions, as a landscape architect and avid gardener, whether he has mastered his craft and about failing, and the role it plays in his designs. The post is a good read…“Sucking is the first step at being sort of good at something.” But what really caught my eye was his reply to a post comment.
He said, “The other thing that helps is installing a planting incrementally. The first year is about covering the ground and getting the “bones” of the planting in; the second and third years are about layering more color through perennials additions, bulbs, and accent plants. That usually allows time to reevaluate the planting each year and make adjustments. The best gardens are an accumulation of plantings over years. It’s hard to nail it the first time without making adjustments.”
Now this guy is talking reality life. I love the phrase, “The best gardens are an accumulation of plantings over years. It’s hard to nail it the first time without making adjustments.” He would never make it on HGTV!
So where am I going with this ramble? I have this reality project going on. It is taking time. It will take more time. And my contractor, Scott the Builder, who I am now referring to as my Eldin, (see Murphy Brown) has become a part of my daily life. A project in real life is about slowing down, savoring the incremental accomplishments of the day, building relationships (and pergolas) and reaping the rewards of breathing easy.
Oh…did I mention the mess? Let’s not get into the reality of that!