Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Building it

There are many parts to this life that we struggle to assemble. We start at a very young age, as babies actually, with the concept of object permanence. As babies we think that once an object leaves our field of view it simply ceases to exist. It takes us a few years to realize that mom isn’t gone, she’s just in the other room and if we scream or yell she’ll come running in to check on us. Once we make that connection we start using it to our advantage for a very long time. It’s the first brick laid in what will be a larger structure.

When we first make friends and start to play and build a social dynamic we are continuing the process of building something. We’re learning how to be polite or share or feel the emotions of another human being. We develop our own conclusions about things and start stating what we believe. Which at an early age is usually wrong, but we are taught the right way and the construction continues.

Our bodies grow and change and hormones start going crazy and we try to hold ourselves together at prom or after the homecoming dance and not become a wild ravenous beasts bent on sexual conquest. We remember what we learned on the playground and try to keep the foundations of our burgeoning structure in place against the earthquakes of trivial youthful indiscretions.  

We enter a new stage of construction as young adults, in college or in the real world and the pieces start lining up and making more sense. We have a balcony now and can look out at the rest of the buildings going up and find some real estate that we’d like to have a little closer. We get to the heart of our structure and see that it’s fragile and it needs supports, sometimes a wall, sometimes it needs help just to get pumping again. It all depends on who else is in your neighborhood at times.

It takes a while sometimes and maybe you have your small skyscraper of personality is in a bad part of town and the expressway is just out of reach because you let the tenants tear you down too much. After some gentrification and kindly rehabilitation you discover your neighborhood isn’t so bad and you’re pleased with the company that has grown up around you. So you start to expand again, hoping that this time will be better.

You’re past your mid-twenties at this point and the concrete forms of you are well formed, but as you discover, far more difficult to adapt. You find there was a new neighborhood that you can’t seem to see into. You know it’s there and the music coming from it is very loud and you don’t quite understand it. It barely makes it to your observation deck anyway. But you keep building and perhaps have an executive level now where you keep an office and co-workers. It seems there’s no stopping the rise into the clouds.

Perhaps there’s an accident, maybe an elevator fails, a union strike; maybe there’s a fire or a bomb or someone just doesn’t want you around and your construction pauses. We try various things; drugs, sex, money, to get it going again but it seems you just can’t get any higher. You see that the middle has gotten too thick and it’s a little clearer why you haven’t risen any higher.
There’s a long lull as you try to organize your workers to try something new. Plans are drawn and re-drawn until they start to resemble something familiar and something that seems achievable. In your mid-thirties now and you know that in order to continue you need a little better plaster or drywall. You understand how it needs to be assembled and hope that the weather or the economic climate doesn’t keep your expansion plans from collapsing. It’s a risk but one that has to be taken on order to obtain that shimmering spire crowing your top.

Perhaps you move again, to a little more upscale neighborhood, maybe there’s a closer train, maybe that building near-by that you’ve had your eye on has their eye on you too. The winds come, the rains come, the summer sun beats at you, the snow buries you, but you have no choice now but to keep building.

One day you open your eyes and you tower above some of the buildings around you. The little annexes that you built have now moved to their own plazas and there’s nothing blocking your view of the world. The last of the construction crews have gone home and birds now coo and nest in your bell tower. The sun feels good and the wind isn’t so bad. You’re not so worried that the foundation has cracked. It’s only a matter of time that you have to come down and make way for newer buildings around you.  You only hope that it was a good build and other structures benefited from your rise and that some will also benefit from your fall. 

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