Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Giants Born in Tiny Houses

I've recently become interested in tiny houses. In fact, I bought a book titled, The Tiny Book of Tiny Houses.

They're intentionally built to be tiny. That's their appeal. I can imagine one in our backyard in Arkansas, among a gathering of oak trees. . . my writer's house! A desk, chair, woven rug, cute curtains, a window box, porch. I can totally picture it in my mind.

On my trip to walk labyrinths in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi last week, I detoured to visit two tiny houses.  Not the architecturally appealing "dollhouse" versions of my imagination, but structures that real people called home. As I snapped pictures, I tried to visualize living in them, with a family.  Cooking, sleeping, eating, playing, bathing, even toileting when a trek to the outhouse seemed like too big a bother.  These houses were tiny out of necessity, not design. They were all the occupants could afford.

A boy was born in each house. One in Hodgenville, Kentucky, the other in Tupelo, Mississippi - 168 years apart.
Each boy would grow up to become icons of American history and culture. 
A president and a "king."

 On the surface, they certainly have little in common. Yet "humble" is a descriptor that appears repeatedly at each man's birthplace, "humble beginnings."  Humble which could more accurately be translated as "poor."
Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home (replica) - Knob Creek, Kentucky
Lincoln's story has always intrigued me. A boy who walked two miles to school with his sister, Sarah, for two years. . . only. Two years of formal education in his entire life. Self-taught for the rest. A man who wrote some of the most eloquent words in history and whose leadership held a divided country together.
I stood at his boyhood cabin, about 10 miles down the road from his birthplace, and looked out at the same fields, mountains, and creek that he looked at.

Elvis Presley's birthplace - Tupelo, Mississippi
Elvis' story was less familiar. A boy who finished high school but never received formal music training. He learned to play guitar from relatives and his pastor. A man whose unique blending of the music that surrounded him created a whole new style and transformed the culture of a budding generation.
I sat in a pew at the Assembly of God church where he sat with his parents on Sunday mornings and listened to music, that he listened to.

At each place, I wondered. . .
What did two young boys take away
from their tiny houses,
from the families with whom they shared them,
from the worlds of Knob Creek, of Tupelo?

What did they take away from those humble beginnings that shaped who they were, and who they became?

Perseverance, Resilience, Determination -- to be sure. But as I walked away from each house, I felt something more, something stronger. . .

their ability to dream.



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