Architecture & Biography

August 02, 2007

In today's society of cookie-cutter houses and manufactured homes, the concept of custom designed residences faces extinction. In the rhythmic waves of repetition in the sea of conformity, complacency replaces the majestic tall ships of originality. The wishful hunger of self- esteem finds many of us thirsting for personal expression that only individualism succeeds in quenching. With increasing encroachment on the psyche by uniformity, writing a sovereign life story in the face of the struggle for expediency presents a challenge.

Certainly master-planned communities and in some cases, a master planned life hold relevance in our brief visit to the planet. Equally as certain, history reminds us of the rare characters in time that not only walked the earth, but lived life according to his or her own plan. They exemplified the unique qualities of divine design.

Like houses, the many different rooms of our personalities form a complete entity. When someone plans a dream home, the architect carefully maps out the doorways and hallways, and indicates a specific purpose for each room. Sometimes the plans include empty rooms or open spaces to accommodate flexibility and growth in coming years. However, the floor plan of our own life rarely commands such compartmentalization or identification of purpose.

Life, however simple or complex, consists of 3 aspects: work, personal and social. Think of these three components as equal portions of a pie. When one slice grows larger, the other two must shrink to maintain the 100% of the pie. When a third of our persona overflows into another aspect, the result sometimes causes an inner imbalance. Hence, the delicate balance of these 3 components offers an invisible peace when the whole equalizes.

When reading a biography, we uncover a story that inevitably leads us to the person's life work, or occupation. Most biographies revolve around accomplishment derived through vocation (or war) and this perspective provides the label by which future generations recognize that person. Life stories run the gamut of:

"I never dreamed in a million years I'd be doing this type of work."
"I knew from a very young age. It's like I was called to do this."
"One thing led to another and here I am, a radio show host!"
"I wanted to be a doctor and let nothing get in my way."

The author establishes an element of insight by describing a person's patterns - the approaches he took. The fascination lies not entirely with the person's shining career, but rather in the architecture of the human spirit which drew him from one room of life to another to create a notable landmark on our world.

As the second slice of the well-lived pie, an author examines how the subject fits into society. As readers, we relate to a person's integration into his social circle and identify with how his friends, family and colleagues held him in regard. Somewhat quantifiable in a reader's mind, the painted picture of the individual gives us more than a glimpse from behind the museum ropes - it offers us an often intangible understanding of the person as a human being - separate from his noteworthy life. In addition, the biographer dutifully presents his subject's worldly struggles and pitfalls mostly because these vignettes depict humanity and a point of common ground for the reader. And finally, the biography reaches resolution by demonstrating the impact the person made on the world around him.

The old adage, 'You can choose your friends, not your relatives,' reaches out to us from the pages of many biographies. Upon closer examination, this slice of life demonstrates that remarkable lives rarely, if ever, rise to distinction on a solo path. Either buoyed or anchored by family or friends, inter-personal relationships charted an integral course in the navigation of the subject's life. From colleagues to business partners, the role of those chosen to include on the path equals in importance to the family into which he was born. The compelling biography captures the reader's interest not for the literal relationships of the subject, but rather how he overcame the objections and stumbling blocks put in his path by his family and friends. The reader also learns how he rose to success in his field by virtue of his own abilities and determination based upon a sturdy foundation of support by those closest to him. These models of achievement exemplify how we, as readers, can then begin to design and build our own lives with the transoms of supportive, empowering minds.

If you visualize your life as a building, what are you? Are you the tallest and proudest high-rise among your peers? By being the most outstanding, your purpose may be to assist those less significant around you to grow and prosper. Do you blend in with the others in close proximity distinguishable only by your address? By quietly including yourself in the herd of your local culture you may support a need that is best filled by the greater whole. Does your life serve a unique purpose irrespective of those around you? Perhaps you are the shoe repair shop in the middle of a bustling downtown center - small and demure in stature, but necessary and prosperous.

One brick at a time, people build their lives according to a blueprint they set forth. Aware of the plans or not, the tools and abilities available to each of us may dictate the grandeur and nature of our life-construction journey. When work, social and personal experiences balance, one finds he can more easily move down the hallways of life. Just as all the rooms connect and inter-relate, the events and people in our lives serve a purpose as they work together for our greater good. You are the architect of your own life - build a good foundation. Construct hallways for personal growth, doorways and arches for insight and actualization, and fill your rooms with love.

(984 words)


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