Rituals of entering and leaving

There’s an apartment building on campus that’s being torn down. It’s near enough that I get to watch the progress day by day, week by week. It’s a little bit like a death, in that soon, this structure will no longer exist. It was here for a while, but it’s at the end of its time.

And death, like everything else, is not an event – it’s a process.

The insides were cleaned out first, and all the things that people left behind pulled out and piled up. Mattresses, old books, half destroyed furniture, broken toys – the sorts of things that seem so important for a minute, until suddenly they’re not. Then the appliances, the things that make an apartment a functional living space, they went next.

While this was happening, the parking lot started to be pulled up – chunks of tar and concrete ripped up, leaving behind gaping holes of dirt and dust.

Now the wiring is being pulled out, and surrounding trees cut down. When there’s nothing left but a shell, the skeleton itself will fall, making way for something new.

If this seems depressing, it’s not meant to be. The building served its purpose for many years, but was falling apart. It couldn’t be saved – it was better to let it go, and make room for something newer, something stronger, something more equipped for what we need right now.

I watch it everyday, pieces of it coming apart, the slow preparation for the final demolition. Honestly, I feel a little sad. But I feel a sense of wonder, too. Because this is what it’s all about, and we get to watch for a while. This change, this coming and going, these rituals of entering and leaving. The growth, the aging.

The process. It’s all about the process. The beautiful parts, the parts that sting, and even the parts that we don’t get to see, because we are also part of the process.

And so I watch this building, because everyday I see it, I think…Somehow, this is important. This matters. Pay attention. 

I think we should all be mindful that we’re paying attention.


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