A Human Scale

I am still trying to find my comfort level or happy equilibrium in the balance of this: embracing all the beauty that is the world, as it is, and my pull to adjust what I find, ever so slightly, so the beauty of the world more closely resonates with my own heart’s beat.

It is possible that I spend too much time, energy and mindspace cultivating my own sense of Feng Shui in the world. It is, however, what I am drawn towards ever since I can recall. I recently read something along the lines of ‘moving in time with our own rhythm is the way our soul most clearly manifests’.

Being on household patrol, I have elected to be responsible for a lot of individual objects, the directions for them, and the bits of hardware that, when missing, render the saved and cared-for object useless. Now, as we wrap up a month’s long pilgrimage back East, I am faced with discrete suitcases and double the quantity of cleaned, folded and stacked items that we originally packed. But, that’s another story, that is.

At home, we are trying to reincorporate bicycling into our family’s life for the first time since moving to Santa Fe two summers hence, plus one new person is in the mix. Before leaving on this trip, I was making great progress (free cycle extend-a-cycle snatched up, cat urine scrubbed from and sun cured off the baby’s seat, etc.), but I seem to be missing a bolt that connects the baby seat to the adult bicycle.

This means that I have another hardware store visit in my proximate future and that is where I really meant to begin my story.

Recently, I discovered a nut to be missing, one of the two that secure the sunshade onto our jogging stroller, a fairly essential piece of apparatus given the sun’s intensity where we live. A quick scan of our tool area-neither of us builders as of yet-revealed a total lack of appropriate nuts, no nuts at all, actually.

Being faced with a dilemma such as this can feel insurmountable at times and I might resign myself to living with a semi-functional, but missed piece of the parenting puzzle until I can get around to attending to it.

I hate shopping and I try not to go to stores with any of my kids and I also try not to go to stores when I could be doing something other than shopping. Pretty much, I prefer not to be shopping.

We have been in Santa Fe for just under two years and, of course, setting up our house initially required a lot of running out for items. To the big box hardware stores we went and often came back tired, with incorrect items and generally confused by the lack of customer service.

So, I have built up an inner story that makes me strongly resistant to entering one of these again. I found myself yearning for McGuckin’s Hardware Store up the road in Boulder, Colorado, a family owned, local, human sized store.

I wanted resolution of this stroller issue and I put on my big girl pants to tote both boys out to a human-sized, albeit chain, hardware store, which I recalled seeing in town. We were attended to closely and left the store with everything that we had been seeking plus the feeling that we had been humans interacting with humans.

It got me thinking about human sized spaces. Used to be, if you wanted soaring walls, tremendous overhead space, echoes and the like you would visit a temple of some sort, concert hall-a place where human endeavor and spirit and aspiration are displayed lovingly.

Now, though, many of us shop in warehouses: Costco, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s-and, not that there’s anything wrong with that per se-I am aware that I don’t feel too keen to enter such places of commerce and I often feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of my time there. It feels easier to make eye contact with employees when they are closer than 27 half-mile-long aisles away.

Years ago, I watched Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” and the scenes in a futuristic Costco store really slayed me, such as: giant shelving units slackened and slumped, braced to one another with ropes rather than reconstructed, malfunctioning trains moving people within the store to different sections (including diplomas, if I recall).

How does this space affect us on more subtle levels? What deserves grand space in these times, for us living people? These are some of the considerations that steer me back towards reshaping our space ever so slightly with so many movements throughout my day.

I read books like A Pattern Language for fun and deeply appreciate the sacred geometry considered in some of the world’s more thoughtful constructions. I want to live in a world that is thoughtfully constructed because I think that better informs us all as thoughtful actors on this stage.

I don’t know that I will ever find my way to a career in design, but in the meanwhile I will be reorienting the houseplants towards the changing lines of sunshine, sweeping out the dusty corners, reinventing how our rooms and yard can hold us and in turn how we live in them. All the while daydreaming of a lifestyle grant: $10,000 and a friendly crew of able bodies, tool-wielding folks.

So, I wonder: what are your good places like?

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4 thoughts on “A Human Scale

  1. Devon, your critisims of dehumanized stores reminded me of this post on David Byrne’s blog titled Digital Brasilia. It was a guest post written by Callan Lamb. The most interesting part is the discussion of the design of Brasilia, the capital city of Brasil. The entire city was so carefully designed for efficiency and modernity that “The experience of moving to Brasilia was apparently so consistently traumatizing that residents of the city even created a term for this common feeling of estrangement—brasilite.”.

    I thank God that I live in a human sized city with a human sized hardware store: McGuckin!

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