A few days ago, my wife and I decided to take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The weather was perfect, which meant the first section of the bridge, the part poking into Manhattan, was pretty crowded. By the time we got to the middle, it was clear and beautiful. We even found an empty bench to sit on.
As we looked out over the skyline, midtown in the near distance to our right and downtown directly in front of us, we noticed something. The cranes.
“Do you think this skyline will ever be free of cranes?” I asked Kylie.
“No.” she said quickly. “They will always be building more.”
In a city like New York, Kylie is right. They are always building something. The cranes are working to erect new skyscrapers and restore old ones. There is never a “clean” view of the skyline. A crane is always at work.
I think one of the things that frustrates me about my own life is that it feels like it will always be under construction. I like the idea that one day, the cranes will stop. My character will be pristine. The need for expansion and repair ended. I can just sit back and enjoy life. Happily Ever After. Isn’t that the lie? That we are just one relationship, one circumstance, one choice away from happily ever after.
The truth is, as soon as I fix one mess, another is on its way. As soon as I navigate one crossroad, I am facing another. Life is an endless project.
Shift in Perspective
It is an easy thing to lament. So much work. So much effort. Plus, it is ugly. We want to sit on the Brooklyn Bridge and look at a perfectly manicured skyline. The cranes seem out of place and almost offensive against the shimmering buildings.
It’s easy to forget the buildings wouldn’t be there without the cranes.
As we got up to leave, I wondered what it would be like to have a more positive view of the endless construction. Kylie is right. The skyline will never be done just like I will never be truly satisfied. I might as well get used to it.
Two things stick out immediately. First, the cranes are impressive. They may be grimy and lanky, but they are massive and powerful. They are hundreds of feet in the air, lifting heavy beams from the ground to heights above their own head. Maybe the cranes deserve some of my awe.
The second thing, of course, is that the cranes invite me into imagination. In ten years, when I take our kids to the Brooklyn Bridge, what will the skyline look like? It will be bigger, better, newer. At the very least, changed. And so it is with me. I’d love the work to stop in my life. But when the work stops, so does the progress. The endless construction means the possibilities for tomorrow are massive. And that is a thing worth celebrating.