Around the House: Must Be Nice 

Finding contentment on the porch, and elsewhere.

"Must be nice," the chronically discontented will say in a resigned tone, as if they've been predestined for a troubled life and can only look on at these blessed few in envy.

There are, in fact, people in this world who enjoy their lives. But in general, enjoying their own lives strikes most people as an ungraspable concept. Are you kidding? Enjoy my life? What — with the job I have and the bills and the kids and their problems and the yard work and the thing that just broke on the house and the …

I'd complete the list, but I'd lose you, to boredom, frustration or suicide.

For the longest time, I wanted a house with a front porch. I didn't need a house with a front porch — I really needed only a house. But I wanted a house with a front porch, and my thinking was, as long as I'm going to own a house, why not own one that I wanted to own? Why not make it one with a front porch?

Sounds like common sense, but it took a surprising amount of faith to make this leap. I'd been thinking about it for years, but for some reason I'd always hesitated, frozen by a strange combination of fear and practicality.

I thought it was me until Stacy and I bought our current home. It is a pretty standard model, but one with a front porch that starts all the way on one side and stretches across the front of the house and around the corner, to a kitchen door on the other side.

It was funny, because as soon as we got this house, people we knew started saying things like, "One day I'd like a house with a wraparound porch."

Many people look at life the same way. The idea of enjoying life, instead of treating it as an endless series of inconveniences, bad breaks and disappointments, seems delusional and Pollyannaish and daring, all at the same time.

For me, though, the front porch was a profound reminder about the nature of life. As long as you are going to live, why not make it a life you enjoy? For me, life has become a lot less about finishing what I'm doing (say, eating breakfast) and a lot more about enjoying the experience (breakfast on the porch — sounds a lot better, doesn't it?).

Daring, revolutionary … and not really that hard to do. You just need to screw up your courage, make that leap and enjoy your life.



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