Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

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“Nothing worth anything ever goes down easy.” —Mat Kearney, musician

Being in your 20s and 30s is a lot like building a metaphorical house. You’re trying to find your tribe, your home base, and your purpose. The past few weeks, my calendar has been overflowing with everything from community groups to new film projects. Just got back from dropping my two friends Luke and Cadeau off at the airport after a much-needed three-day staycation here in Los Angeles.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is about a husband and wife (Cary Grant and Myrna Loy) who decide it’s time leave their apartment in New York and establish a homestead in Connecticut together…so why the heck isn’t it called Mr. and Mrs. Blandings Build Their Dream House? The project costs them a grand total of forty thousand dollars. It would have been in the best interests of the screenwriter to leave monetary figures out of the script entirely, because the references do not hold up well against the tests of time and inflation. The do-it-yourself construction hilarity, however, translates to any era…

Evan Almighty

Evan Almighty, 2007

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“Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean” episode, 1994

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A Grand Day Out, 1989

When it comes to do-it-yourself projects, like building a dream house (metaphorical or otherwise), our desire for instant gratification is always right around the corner. Listen to what my pastor, Ger Jones, had to say about instant gratification in this January 8 sermon:

(20:40) We live, obviously, in a [culture] that demands instantaneous results. We just want everything now. If something is worth doing, we get the results now. It started with the microwave, all the way through to the iPhone. We just think, man, I want to be like Jesus, I want that, I want this. Is there a killer app I can download to get that for me? […] We don’t want to do anything, we just want to see the results.

On a personal note, my grandpa built the rural Kansas house that my mom grew up in around the same time in history as Mr. Blandings. There were no GoPro cameras to capture a time lapse of the walls going up. There was no Instagram to say “look how it’s coming along!” The only thing he clung to was the hope that this strenuous process would result in a long-lasting place to raise his family. He got what he wanted, and then some. My favorite childhood memories take place on that homestead. Knowing how how it got there inspired me, and continues to inspire me, to work hard for what I want.

(When the house was eventually sold to a different owner who wanted to renovate the place, my grandpa’s hand-built kitchen cabinets were so perfectly attached to the walls that she had to bash them out with a crowbar. The poor lady did not know what she was up against.)

It would be nice to wake up one morning and have everything done. But as I continue to build my life, I will remind myself to enjoy the construction process, hammered thumbs and all.

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