Countless buildings are abandoned, and many of those are torn down, but few are abandoned in the process of being torn down. I happened upon one, a few winters ago, out walking in the snow.
It got me thinking about how change works in our lives. There may indeed be “a time to build and a time to take down”, but we do a lousy job at both. When we get married, for instance, we are told of all the work it takes to build a marriage; but, notoriously, we don’t do the work. Similarly, but less less famously, people don’t do the work it takes to disassemble a marriage either — or any other relationship that ends, for that matter.
Wanton destruction is easy. Deliberately disassembling something takes care and time, whether it is a friendship, a job, business entanglements, or anything else that takes time to build.
One of my best friends described to me closing a greeting card and gift shop she had operated for years. She walked around the empty place, looking at the now empty card racks and shelves*, remembering the excitement of opening the store. Days of picking out inventory, choosing lines to carry, family and friends crowding in the new store, hopeful sales and dreams of expansion — just faded memories now.
“Still, it was mostly good, right?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said. “We had great hopes for the business that didn’t come to pass, but they were worth having. All of it was worth it. You can only lose when you have something to lose, but, ‘something’ is all we ever get, in this life.”
I have come to see that we are called to build the neverlasting — with our actions, with our choices, even with our words. I think back to that day walking in the snow, and realize: we may come upon the ruins of someone else’s dream, and when we do, we need to remember, that hope is a precious commodity, and we should never do anything in this life to lessen the supply of it.
*A beautiful scene like this was shown in the Movie “You’ve Got Mail“.
For Nano Poblano this year, I’m trying a prose post a day instead of my usual work in poetry. Thanks for reading. – S.B.