The Big Blank House

Our vision is concrete: it begins with a house.

With whatever funding we will generate, we will build a house. This is not just an ordinary house. This is a special one. It's called The Big Blank House. It is a house that will provide free accommodation to traveling writers, artists, and photographers. It is a house that, in the beginning, will be blank and white as a sheet of paper and bare as a canvas, save for a few furniture. It will be pure and innocent as a newborn child. That is, in the beginning.

Each traveler staying here will leave behind a travel-inspired piece of art. It may be a short story, a painting, a poem, a sculpture, or a photograph. It may be something as simple and useful as a blanket or a pillow. It may be something as big, heavy, and intricately designed as a bookshelf. It can be anything, anything at all, as long as it's crafted with the traveler's own hands.

Scribbled somewhere on that piece of art is the traveler's name and country, the date it was made, and the place that inspired it. The traveler may also choose to leave it blank and anonymous. The anonymous object may bear no name and date, but it will flood a handful of other travelers with memories about the person who made it.

The traveler will create it with passion, and may carry the thing with him wherever he goes as a work in progress. The finished product will be a physical evidence that others can see, smell, and touch. By the end of his stay, he will leave it on a wall, on a table, on the floor, or stick it to the ceiling. It will be a physical evidence that the traveler was there once, so briefly, but now no more. His last day will be as sad as a funeral, and all the travelers currently staying in the house will witness it, remember the object and the memories associated with it, and grieve.

With each traveler and each piece of art installed, the house will grow, evolve, and transform into something else: the house will become a home. A warm one, with many cozy rooms, cozy beds, cozy couches, and a nice, cozy living room. "Cozy" will be written all over it. And it's the only word that will strike you on your first visit.

During the day, the house will have wide open windows, overlooking an impossibly blue sea. At night, it will have the lingering smell of freshly brewed coffee. It will have homemade beer, the good company of artists, and a small organic garden, which the travelers will tend to in the morning to soothe another terrible hangover. The walls of the house will listen to these strangers' endless adventures and misadventures, and even the dull stories in between. The walls will listen to every word, every whisper, every idle moment, every ticking silence, and they will listen quietly.

With all the stories stored in its walls, this home will become a character itself, suffused with the celebration of freedom, creativity, life. Like the pure and innocent newborn, we'll nurture this house and dress it with hand-knit clothes. We'll watch it grow and take its first few steps into becoming a living museum. It will keep on growing. It will keep on changing. Changing into something better, something more beautiful with each passing day, that, in due time, no amount of money can ever buy. When once it was a Big Blank House, in the future it will be the complete opposite. Everybody else will wonder why it's called that way, and the house will tell its own story. It will tell its story of how it was built. It will tell its story with every little object and scribble inside it.

Above all, it will be a home that will cleave an impression on every visitor, that will shake you, that will move you, that will make you cry, that will make you bleed, that will make you want to die, because you will believe that life is short; it will pass and you'll be gone. That, like traveling to this house, you will be here once, so briefly and traceless as the flight of a bird, and then, in one blink, you will be no more. And yet short as life is, you can turn it into one colossal adventure if you only go, create, and inspire.

This piece is just a short story. It's a very, very short story that you can finish reading while drinking a cup of coffee. It's a story of imagination and a story of creation. Soon, it will be a story that will inspire like a wildfire; just like the wildfire that we witnessed in one of the deadliest mountains in the country, Mt. Sicapoo: a bright orange glow in the middle of a mountain range's silhouette, against a starry, starry night.

For now, this remains a vision, a promise, something you can keep in a corner of your heart. And then one day, we will start this fire, you and I. It will kindle this vision and piece together the wide, empty lot, the blocks of concrete, the planks of wood, people flying in to build and help. Soon, oh so soon, so soon it's just right there when you wake up: tomorrow, this story will be The Big Blank House, text morphed into form, a real house that you can enter and run around in and live in and be happy.

But you say, Oh, this is just a daydream. Oh, what a fantasy. But when one day you come around a bend, find this curious museum barely remembering its name, and you encounter this text on a wall, you will say, Now I remember. I have read this when it was just a dream. You will walk around the house and say, This feels so real I thought that dream was mine. And it is yours. It has always been yours as it has always been mine. Pure potential, indestructible, a fire that we are starting together as you read this and dream of growing. A fire that will start other fires. It begins with our vision: it begins with our house.

// 23 Mar 2013