Weathered.

Every now and then, I feel about as old and worn out as this looks:

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(Today is one of those days, but I won’t go into the details right now. As Michael Ende wrote in The Neverending Story, “that is another story and shall be told another time.”)

Today I’d like to share some ruins.

In my town, there’s a beautiful old factory dating back to the 1840s. Engines, turbines, boilers, and other machinery were manufactured at the site over the years, until it closed in the 1970s. In the 1990s, the building complex began a new existence as an outlet mall. Much of it was renovated, though there are still a few crumbling bits and pieces.

The detail of the peeling paint in the photo above is located on the support beam in the far left of this photo:

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Someone, years ago, held the paintbrush that glided over this wooden beam. Someone used their hands to build that stone wall. These were real human beings. They had lain down to sleep at night and woken up in the morning. They had dreams and fears and joys and hardships. They had favourite foods, and favourite seasons, and favourite pastimes. They knew how to ride a horse, or swing an axe, or hum a lullaby to their children. They’d fallen in love (or they’d never fallen in love). I always wonder about the people – and the stories – behind our enduring artifacts.

Word on the street is that during the next couple of years, this complex will undergo a major redevelopment into a trendy shopping/tech/entertainment district. It’ll be lovely, I’m sure, and certainly an economic boost for the city. I think they plan to keep most of the bones of the historic buildings, but some will have to give way for the modern new design.

When it happens, and these walls have been bulldozed and the peeling paint is gone, what will be left to remind me – or my kids, or my kids’ kids – of that painter or that stonemason?

Enough of my pondering… off to bed now so that I don’t wake up as old and worn out tomorrow.

 

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Next door.

I love stories with magical doors. Usually the plot involves a quest of some kind, a journey from Point A to Point B (or, in many cases, from Point A back round to Point A with some detours in between), in which the protagonist is somehow profoundly changed. The doors aren’t merely practical considerations or decor enhancements – passing through usually involves a trial of some sort.

I’ve been thinking about this as related to some recent wrestling with the complexities of life. How we can be both drawn and repelled by what’s on the other side of a door. How our need for adventure or change might compel us to venture through, or how our fear of uncertainty can be paralyzing enough to keep us where we are. How we’re sometimes offered a choice of doors; multiple opportunities that we can choose to take (or choose to leave).

And in other situations, how the act of passing through one particular massive, ugly gate is necessary to our survival.

In any case, we’re never quite the same people when we come out the other side.

(Today I added to my collection of door photos. This is becoming a strange but satisfying hobby).

Door to door.

I’ve started my door collection.

With a half hour to kill earlier tonight, I sped through a few downtown blocks on foot, looking for doors.

Representing both an entrance and an exit, freedom and confinement, protection and isolation, beginnings and endings – doors are simple but compelling symbols. A door is an edge; a boundary – sometimes guarded or locked – marking the transition from one state to another.

Once I started looking, I couldn’t help but wonder how we choose to represent the entrances to our public and private dwellings. What does the style of a door say about how we’d like to be perceived? How welcoming we are (or not)? What someone might expect to find on the other side? It’s in our nature to be intrigued by the burning question of what’s behind a closed door (or inside a closed box).

I don’t know what’s behind every one of tonight’s doors. Maybe some day I’ll venture inside…but for now I think I’ll just admire them from out here.