I was in a store recently that had custom stenciling and painting on the walls and floor. It was absolutely stunning when you entered, and you had no doubt you were entering a unique and interesting place. The decorating was a solid reflection of the merchandise and care taken for the customers.
As I thought about this floor later, the practical side of my brain kicked in. How did the landlord feel about the painted floors? Was it part of their lease agreement? Who did it and how long did it take? How did they decide which custom pattern to utilize and how would the pattern and color choice work over time as the trends in the store changed? It hit me that not only was the stenciling beautiful and unique, it was a long term decision that would impact everything about the store. Sort of like a tattoo for the floor. Once it’s there, it’s there unless someone endured a great deal of work and pain to remove it.
I then thought about how we do not see this type of custom work in many homes anymore. The purpose and value in homes has changed over the years. Many people see them as an investment to be bought and sold for the money. Sure they enjoy living there but with the mindset that it is only temporary until it is time to sell. Other generations saw their home as a place to live their lives for a long time and the custom things they did were to make their life better not simply for investment purposes. My example of this is a friend who saw that I painted a custom wall in our foyer and was surprised as she did not think it would help our resale value. It was her first thought. When she told me this I said I did not paint it with selling in mind, I painted it for us to enjoy. Fascinating how people can look at the same thing and react completely differently, polar opposites, one thinks financial the other thinks family.
I think this boils down to personal and practical needs. We all have both sides and we employ them in different ways and at different times. I first saw the store’s creative floor then hours later began thinking about the practical side. I painted my home as a personal need to enjoy our space and my friend instantly went practical when she saw it. The balance in life comes when we understand ourselves enough to know when we need practical thinking and when we need to address our personal needs. Conflict arises when we are working in a practical mode and the other person simply needs some TLC from the personal perceptive, or vice versa. Challenges also arise when one side is never addressed, like only being practical and squelching anything personal.
When a need is not addressed or remains ignored someone is left feeling empty and that void eventually gets filled with something else. Feeling empty wears people down and what was once a smooth relationship experiences sharp edges that have been ignored too long and begin to drag both parties down. Maybe today is the day you need to pay attention and bring a little personal care to those around you – coworkers, family, friends, neighbors – and let the practical side sleep. Or maybe you are overwhelming someone with too much personal and their practical needs are hanging in the balance unaddressed and unknown. Knowing ourselves and knowing the people around us means understanding and addressing both their personal and practical needs. It takes energy and care to do both, but aren’t you and those other people worth it?