Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Firm Foundations

When you are thinking about purchasing a home, whether existing or brand new, what is one of the key things that you want a building inspector to investigate? The foundation....correct. Sure there are a lot of other details, but without a sound foundation, how long do you think it will last? A well-laid foundation is absolutely essential for a house. Of course, if you want it done right, you would hire a General-Contractor or perhaps an Engineer to ensure that it is done properly. (Well....most of the time.) Though it will cost a little more, but a strong and well-laid foundation is the best investment you can make. Using good quality material for your foundation, garage, driveway and sidewalks and steel for strengthening and holding things in place. Cracks formed due to the use of steel can always be fixed. Sounds simple enough... right?

But, what if we were to take these principles and relate them to the way we see our family. First, think about the family that you stemmed from. What kind of a foundation was beneath you when you were born? I know that at the time you didn't know any better, but what about now? What kind of thoughts do you have when you re-visit the threshold of your past? Was it sound? Stable? Dry? Did it have the strength to hold up the walls and the roof? To keep the outside out and the inside in. Or, was it weak, unstable and leaky? Were there cracks in the concrete patched here and there? Did the walls groan and the stairs creak beneath the weight of your tiny feet? Did you feel safe and comfortable or were you uncertain, unstable and frightened? Was a foundation template created that you felt safe to use when you went out to build for yourself? Or, did you think you needed to start from scratch?

Personally, my first foundation was built on quicksand. The building inspector of the day was definitely payed off to look the other way and it was only a matter of time before the concrete turned to dust. As a matter of fact, I'm not really sure it went beyond getting the forms set up before it was condemned. Then, you are suddenly moved into an existing dwelling. Cold, lifeless and stagnant. The foundation is established with no chance for an inspection or even a chance to get a second opinion. You are in it for the duration. Years later, you leave. Scratching your head befuddled, bewildered and unprepared. Uncertain where to start, you decide to throw caution to the wind and to start building from scratch. But time after time, the concrete recipe for the foundation fails. Always missing one ingredient or another. Stubborn pride, more than know how kept you from asking for the help to find the right combination of ingredients required. And now, the building plans are shelved, dust covered and incomplete. What went wrong?

Lately, I've been thinking about some of the close friends in my life and I have made this interesting observation. Almost every one of them came from relatively stable backgrounds. Better than 90% actually. A staggering percentage! To me at least. And amazingly enough, most have moved on to establish their own firm foundations with loved ones of their own. What gives? I watch the interaction between them and their parents and then between them and their children. And then it becomes painfully clear what ingredient has been missing from my recipe. Sometimes it hurts just to think how obvious it was I can't even bring myself to say it. But without it, you can be sure that all you are going to get out of it is a thick bucket of slurry which couldn't hold up the wind. It made me wonder how we became friends. How did I come to be in such company? It's a mystery I guess. Or is it? Perhaps my sub-conscious was hoping that whatever magic they had would rub off on me. No such luck.

Anyways, these were things that have been rumbling around in my head lately. And as you can tell, a lot more questions than answers. Now here in Blog Land, I feel a sense of belonging. A sense that there are others who's lives had a little bit of a journey to them. That they too, had to search for that elusive missing ingredient. From what I have seen, once they found it though, up went the forms, out came the mixer and a little bit of sweat equity. Toss in a pail full of tears, a shovel full of understanding and a few buckets of love et voilà! A new foundation. Stable, firm and one well worth passing on to the next generation. May we all find that missing ingredient.


lakeviewer said...

Bogey, what a wonderful analogy here. You are so right. That foundation makes all the difference.
One thing you left out. Humans build themselves. Yes, if the foundation is there, life is easier. But, we are a resilient race; a thoughtful breed. We can march on into the future with our brain and brawne and make our future.

You have had a very tough beginning. Your foundation was weak. Your recipe was missing major ingredients. But, you are here with understanding and beliefs about the importance of that foundation.

These thoughts have become your foundation for your life, your work, your relationships.

I'm glad you're reaching out and expressing these thoughts.

Ai Shiang said...

Are you a civil engineer Bogey? Thanks for this post. The first paragraph already gives me lots of information.

I didn't know that you need to hire an engineer to inspect the potential house. I always think and also been told that we need a surveyor rather. We haven't bought our place yet. That's a good piece of information. At least next time we hire the relevant party to do the job! :o)

Michelle said...

I think we got a bit more hope than them though Bogey. That's what kept us going so we could keep on figuring it all out.

I get so sick of doing the damned hard yards sometimes. Don't you?

Great post!


smiles4u said...

As I was reading the first paragraph I was thinking in my head, "this is the same as building the foundation for our lives." I should have known this is what you were leading

You are brilliant.

Like you, my first foundation was not stable or safe. Even now, I wonder how I survived that hell. It was why I was never going to have children myself. Ever. But look at me

It wasn't until I was around 17 that I came to realize that not everybody got slapped around by their dad...that not every parent swears at their kids or calls them horrible inexpicable names. That not every family lived in chaos. Sadly, it took me many years before I believed that I didn't deserve to be hit or abused.

One thing about living in hell is either you stay there and become a member or you get the hell out. When I was a young pregnant girl I found myself stuck in this unstable house. My greatest fear was passing this on to my child. So, I chose to get the hell out. Like you I searched out something different then what I had known.

I read every book I could find and did learn a few things. But mostly I studied people...happy familys and observed all the ingredients that made their family different from the one I grew up in. And I wanted to be those families.

You already know I broke the chains of my past and through blood, sweat and tears, my life is totally completely different from the one I grew up in. I have given my children a different life then I had. To me, this will always be a miracle.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us and for telling it so well. Your's is a message that gives hope. Love and hugs to you my dear friend, Lori

Lori ann said...

Dear Bogey,
I had to think about this for awhile before I could comment. The thing that came to my mind is that i'm not so sure that all your friends have that life you are seeing. I am pretty postive there are things below the surface that only they know and are letting the world see. I have learned in my life that the we all have some sort of dysfunction in our families. I don't think i've met a person yet that hasn't got something.
Rosaria's right though, you have had it harder than most. And that we each of us have the choice to build our own foundation/lives the way we want. You are an amazing man to me Bogey. I almost think it wouldn't hurt the human race to have to struggle a bit more if it would make them the kind, generous, thoughtful (poetic)person you have become. And I suspect always have been.
I really liked this post, thank you for sharing.

Bogey said...

Rosaria, thank you so much for your wise and caring thoughts on this post. Sometimes, I forget to acknowledge the strength of the inner foundation that I actually had a hand in creating.

Ai Shiang, no I am not a Civil Engineer. Let's just say that I am learning about strenthening Foundations.

Michelle, I think it is the "hard yards" that provide us with the ability to see what we need to see and do what we need to do to survive. I would rather be what I am becoming than a cold, angry individual with no soul that feels neither compassion or empathy.

Lori, you read this exactly the way I was hoping it would be read. A little understanding of what it is/was like to have nothing to fall back on but you're own resources and inner strength. Your story blends itself perfectly for this. The payback you are getting now for your selfless sacrifices can never be taken away from you.

Lori Ann, I know some of what I see is viewed thru rose-coloured glasses. And of course, we see what we want to see and what people are prepared to show us. It is like setting a table only using your finest China and Silverware. Even they need polishing once in awhile. And thank you so much for the kind flattery. Again, sometimes when looking in the mirror, all one can see are the lines etched in their face. We dismiss too easily the journey that put them there.

Rinkly Rimes said...

I always compare building a life to building a house and without doubt the foundations are vital. An insightful blog.

TechnoBabe said...

This post is some really good writing. I can so relate to your childhood. Mine was definitely not safe. After another traumatic incident I was removed and placed in foster homes around age twelve. It has taken me many years to see my childhood clearly and put it in perspective as well as removing my walls that I thought would keep me safe. Like you, I have some very stable friends and I am in awe of them. Thank you for putting these thought to paper in this post my friend.

James said...

My foundation was made out of toothpicks over a termite colony. Thankfully I let God take over my condemned foundation. :)

ms toast burner said...

Hey Bogey, a belated comment as I'm waaay behind in my blogging...

Cool and very useful analogy and very well put. Rebuilding a foundation; reparenting yourself.

But this:

"I watch the interaction between them and their parents and then between them and their children. And then it becomes painfully clear what ingredient has been missing from my recipe. Sometimes it hurts just to think how obvious it was I can't even bring myself to say it."

I so understand what you mean here. It stirs up oodlings of envy in me.

Also this, "It made me wonder how we became friends. How did I come to be in such company? It's a mystery I guess. Or is it? Perhaps my sub-conscious was hoping that whatever magic they had would rub off on me."

Orrr... if you think about it differently... you're obviously a thinker, very insightful, caring, sensitive, humourous and courageous. No doubt, your struggles have played a roll in that.

No offense to your friends and to anyone else who grew up 'normal and stable' but generally, at least in my experience, people who haven't had to struggle lack that spark or edge. They haven't had to think about a lot of 'stuff' nor have they had experiences that allow them to grow, to reconsider, to foster empathy, etc... and these are hugely positive characteristics. And again, I find them more prevalent in people who have had struggles.

Perhaps your friends would like a bit of you to rub off on them?

Just saying...

Bogey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bogey said...

Thank you RR for your warm sentiments. They are appreciated.

TechnoBabe, I am sure there are quite a few people with similar histories that have had a difficult time processing it. Thank you for your very kind thoughts.

Nice to see you have retained a sense of humour above all else James. That's a good thing.....yes!

Marnie, you have left me rather speechless. You have given me a lot to think about here and for that I am grateful. Sometimes, I think I have my nose so ground into the muck, I can't see what is in front of me. This took a lot of insight on your part to be able to disect this diatribe with so much care, empathy and understanding. Thank you.

Thank you all actually. As is often the case, I am truly humbled and will be forever grateful.

Michelle said...


I came here to leave you an award, I never guessed how well timed it might proof to be.

I get a similar hurt feeling with people with kids (I can't have any) and since several of my in-laws are about ten years younger than me... there are lots of babies in the family lately. It sucks feeling that longing for something that seems utterly beyond your reach. Wish I could send you your dreams come true instead of just an award.

lin said...


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Cindy Dy said...

Very interesting story. I didn't find it boring to read. In fact, I really had a lot of fun reading your post. Thanks.