Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

22 May 2006

Foundations

One of the joys of living in a small town is waiting at rail crossings for trains to pass.  And since I have to cross three sets of railroad tracks to get my kids to two different schools, I often get to experience this joy – sometimes more than once a day.  (Just in case there is any doubt in anyone’s mind about this, my sarcasm dial is cranked up to “Max” as I write those previous two sentences.)  Last week, while waiting for a particularly long and unbelievably slow train to pass, instead of reading the paper or just zoning out as I normally do, I spent some time pondering the back side of the cement truck stopped immediately in front of me.  (And before I get feedback on the issue, I realize that those trucks contain concrete, but where I live they’re called “cement” trucks.)  As that big drum slowly rotated in front of my car, I realized that here was an almost elephantine piece of equipment that is ubiquitous in our world that most folks just don’t notice.  And this post was born.

Actually, a couple of things came to me at that point.  The first was that while cement trucks are really different, we’re used to seeing them, so they have become simply another vehicle on the road.  Wouldn’t it be great if people were like that with regard to others who were different from them?  Even if there weren’t all that many of the different ones, even if they were obviously “different” – whatever that meant - no one would care enough to notice them or be upset by them.

The second thing that occurred to me was the use that was going to be made of the concrete in that cement truck.  In my part of the world, the primary uses of concrete are either as a road surface or as the foundation slab for a building, usually a house.  Those are very good uses for concrete and examples of how most of us live our lives.  We build our lives on a firm footing and follow a smooth-paved path into the future.  That’s good … or is it?

What if we want to set out across the open fields and not follow the well-maintained, well-defined roads?  What if we want to go somewhere that the roads don’t go?  We can do that, but we have to be willing to work to accomplish it.  We have to get out of our cars and walk in order to make our own path.  We have to sometimes realize that maybe we can’t even get there from here.  We have to be prepared to be uncomfortable and to fail.  But it can be worth it if the place we find is new and beautiful.

And when we build our homes on their foundations of concrete, what if later on we decide that the home is somehow not right for us?  What if we need a bigger home?  What if we want to radically alter that home?  In that case, the concrete foundation imposes restrictions upon us.  It isn’t easily altered.  We can either move to another home on a different foundation that may or may not be exactly what we want, or we can change the foundation of the home we have.  The latter is a lot more work and often very inconvenient, but is guaranteed to come closer to satisfying our needs in the long run.  We should always build on a solid foundation, but it would also behoove us to keep in mind that nothing is ever really permanent … although sometimes the trains going through town may seem to be.

  • On 5/23/2006 4:26 AM, Blogger Diana_CT said…

    If you want to carry that analogy a bit further, concrete is made up of stones of different size and shape that are bound together by the cement, if the aggregate were all the same size and shape the concrete would not be as strong. The differences in society are what makes for a stronger society, it allows for different views and ideas instead of the same group thought.

     
  • On 5/23/2006 8:27 AM, Blogger Tonya said…

    How boring the world would be if we all lived in the same identical house.

     
  • On 5/23/2006 4:07 PM, Blogger Jami said…

    Diana - I like the aggregate analogy. Thanks.

    Tonya - YES! Uniformity sucks. We need to develop a reconfigurable house. Like, if you were having a big party, you'd make the kitchen bigger, add a bunch of bathrooms, and just have one other big room ... with a bar. OK, depending on the party, you might not eliminate the bedrooms, but you get the idea.

     

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