With the framing well underway (Cottage and Lodge largely done, Barn up next), I’ve found myself musing lately on the multiple interpretations of the very concept of a frame. Certainly as the timbers are first nailed into place to create the frame for a building they serve the purpose of defining the space they enclose, in much the way a picture frame provides a border for and encases a piece of art. What a thrill it was to walk through the ‘rooms’ of our new home for the first time, feeling held in just the way I’d hoped! But now that those timbers are sheathed, that very same frame has become more of an internal supporting structure, no longer even visible from an external vantage point: the frame is more like the skeleton of the house than the skin, my perception of it changed . . . just like that. It is a frame [‘a rigid structure that surrounds or encloses something‘] and a frame [‘the rigid supporting structure of an object‘] all at the same time.
It seems the derivation of the word frame is from the Old English framian, ‘be useful.’ I find this particularly apt as it relates to another way in which I often think about frames. I have long been in the habit of changing metaphorical frames when faced with challenging behaviors or attitudes in others, switching out a negative frame for one that is more positive (or at least allows for a more patient response from me): the ‘stubborn’ child becomes ‘tenacious,’ the ‘insensitive’ neighbor is ‘awkward.’ Maybe our child’s persistence, although not always convenient to manage in the here-and-now, will be the trait that serves him best in adulthood and is worthy of being encouraged to a reasonable degree; perhaps the neighbor is only socially clumsy, with no desire or intent to offend. I find this exercise in re-framing encourages at least a modicum of grace on my part in interactions that might otherwise provoke me to ire or disdain, a very useful tool indeed!
These metaphorical frames serve to provide cases in which I may hold my understanding of others, much as the frames of our buildings serve to encase the spaces we intend to occupy, but I think of them as just that: external borders. It is the internal structure of my own frame of mind that allows me to make use of the metaphorical frames, and I credit the fact that I’m an eternal optimist by way of explaining my willingness to adopt this habit of frame changing. According to Winston Churchill, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Just as one chooses the dimensions when framing a new building, I like to think one may choose to shape one’s frame of mind: I choose optimism and will continue to cultivate my habit of trying new frames to promote a productive way to move forward when the path is unclear.
The frame [see above, and ‘constitution or nature of someone or something‘] of Acorn Lodge, generous yet cosy, will stand at the ready eventually to welcome and nurture all who enter. The road to completion may be pocked with unexpected potholes — the lenses of my frames [‘glasses‘] are not rose-tinted — but we mean to frame [‘create or formulate‘] an experience that will be as positive, for all involved, as possible.
“Optimism is the cheerful frame of mind that enables a teakettle to sing,
though in hot water up to its nose.”