Seeing the Big Picture - Huffington Post 4.21.2014

Recently, my wife and I bought a house in New Jersey. The home is of 1920s vintage and possesses "good bones" (to quote a realtor who looked at the home with us), which is a nice way of saying that it is quite old and was in need of a significant facelift. While age and generous use were certainly factors in the home's largely worn condition, a more pressing matter was the foul smell that emanated from the hardwood flooring on the main floor. Previous owners had pets, which resulted in a residual odor that could only be extracted by completely replacing the hardwood. The home was also in desperate need of a paint job.

Naturally, once we had committed to doing these projects, it only made sense to update the molding as well. Old trim alongside new floors and fresh paint just doesn't look very nice. And once the trim was going to be replaced, we just had to also install new interior doors for the same reason. (The windows will go at some point too, we hope, but there's only so much we could handle). We understood that if we wanted to gain the maximal aesthetic benefit of the work that was required, it was not sufficient to address those isolated areas. The condition of one component or feature, particularly those that are interconnected, impacts the way that we perceive and appreciate the total condition of the home.

This concept of deconstructing for the purpose of constructing something better can be extended to our thoughts and attitudes as well. There may be people who offend us because of their perceived insensitivity, coarseness or other non-endearing attributes. Perhaps we do not care for a particular company, organization or locale because something about it -- such as its residents or policies -- does not sit well with us. By allowing ourselves to think in global, dismissive terms, we discount the subject's many positive qualities, often to our own detriment.

Our housing project reinforced for me the value in looking more deeply, to deconstruct my initial impressions, and try to assess the true potential, in beauty or character, that lays within and beyond the surface. Such efforts at reconstruction will ultimately allow for a more positive impression and hopefully more rewarding relationship as well.

Naphtali HoffComment