Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.
– R. I. Fitzhenry
– R. I. Fitzhenry
LIFE WOULD BE A BORING, maybe even a pointless journey if we knew in advance all that awaits us. Fortunately, we don’t. Despite the increasingly powerful and sophisticated technologies with which we probe the future and model the changes it may bring, we still see through the glass darkly, at best. Even as we second-guess the future in the hope of outwitting it, doubt, uncertainty, disappointment and discovery are all still very much with us. Tomorrow’s news, flung through our window, may arrive as a breeze or a brick.
Lately, it seems, it’s been mostly bricks. But unlike 1929, when the bottom dropped out overnight, we seem to be descending toward the new Armageddon haltingly and uncertainly, catching up on a lucky outcropping one day then slipping and sliding the next, threatening to eventually build up enough speed to hurtle into the financial and ecological abyss we are assured awaits us at the bottom of the cliff. Toss in the hysteria with which much of the news media laces its reports on our progress, and the worry of unknowing can easily turn to terror.
All this foreboding notwithstanding, however, the times may not be as bad as we’re told. There is a big difference between praying for deliverance from the fury of the Northmen and wringing our hands because the inflated value of our homes has slumped by 20 percent or stocks have tanked again. Still, in many neighborhoods and in many workplaces, the rumbles of uncertainty have grown noticeably louder. With Architectural Digest’s ad revenues down 46 percent in the past year, it is obvious that a certain degree of teetering in the publishing world is happening rather close to home.
For us, and for most of you, that home is an old American bungalow—which, by its very nature, was designed and built to provide a simple, durable and, in its unique way, beautiful setting in which to pursue a modest but richly rewarding life. Today, in these ominous times, the older the bungalow, the more reassurance it provides, because its quality, simplicity and beauty have enabled it to survive almost a century of upheavals that have radically altered the tempo of our daily existence. Our bungalow has the distinction of having been completed in 1914, a time when the conflagration of World War I was engulfing Europe, leaving the ashes of the original Arts and Crafts Movement in its charred path. Meanwhile, here in peaceful California, our new bungalow’s owners held their first housewarming party in December of that year, at the same historic moment that British and German soldiers set aside their fears and their orders, laid down their arms and gathered in the wreckage of the no man’s land of Flanders Field to sing carols, exchange gifts and talk about home. For a fleeting moment, the disorienting smokescreens of war lifted, revealing not enemies but a band of brothers.
The values and disciplines of the Arts and Crafts era may have been eclipsed by the smoke of war, but when the smoke cleared their spirit sprang up again. It is harbored to this day in the bungalows of that era, which continue to sustain us, generations later. They are enduring reminders that the quality of our lives is measured by our fidelity to one another and by the hope and courage with which we greet each day, in good times and bad, ready for the news it brings.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
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