The neighborhood that I live in right now isn’t much of a neighborhood, really. It’s more a few group of streets with a few houses on each row, separated by plots of land, broken concrete, and overgrown weeds.
My house is lucky. It’s fully constructed, and is situated between two other built houses, both of which are occupied.
For the past few months, I’ve been woken up at 8 AM every weekend I’ve been in town to the sound of drilling and yelling. If I grumpily looked out the window, I might have seen clouds of dust and bulldozers moving around on a plot of land that is visible out of my side window. Everyday that I can recall, construction workers would be laboring away at a square of land.
At first, it seemed hopeless. I saw slabs of concrete, beams of wood and metal, and I slowly watched the progress of them creating the foundation of what was soon to be a house.
Later, I lost interest. I no longer glanced out the window to watch their progress; I only caught shots as I walked past that window occasionally. Still, just clouds of dust and bulldozers.
Over the summer, I went away for 7 weeks to debate camp.
After I returned home, I’d forgotten about the whole construction project.
And I just went on with my life…
I can’t exactly pinpoint when, but sometime between the first morning when I woke up to the sound of drilling and this Sunday morning, the noise ended.
No more yelling. No more drilling and hammering and dragging of wood on concrete.
Glanced out the window today for the first time a long time, and lo and behold, there stood a house, fully constructed.
It looked like any ordinary house, with gray bricks and windows, but a look into the house revealed that it was still empty, the floors were bare, and some tarpaulin protected the chimney.
Except I sat idly in my bedroom for months as the whole house was built from the ground. I’m desperately trying to pull a larger meaning from this because when I realized that the construction was finally, finally done after months upon months, something moved in me.
Progress, when you look at it on a day-to-day basis, doesn’t seem much like progress at all. It seems like a brick has been laid here and there, but nothing really seems to have been accomplished.
Check back in a week, and you’ll notice a visible layer of bricks has been laid. A month, and they’ve finished one column and moved onto another. Another month, and they’ll have started on the second story. It’s amazing how much daily efforts add up and turn into something that the workers can look back at and be proud of.
In the same way, our efforts when writing a book or knitting a sweater may not seem to be much of efforts at all. In comparison with the completed project, it often seems like we are getting absolutely nowhere. We want to slam the notebook shut and throw our knitting needles to the floor, frustrated, but after working at it for a while, you’ll flip back through the pages and look down at the train of knitted fabric and think, “Wow, that’s my creation.” You’ll run your fingers over the grooves that your pen has made on the page and over the ribs and gnarls of your new scarf, and instantly be proud.
Sat down to eat dinner today. For the first time, I realized that the house was in plain view from the windows of our dining room. How rad, that one day I looked out the window and found the house, fully constructed. I don’t know if a family’s already bought the house. There could be a little boy, there could be a little girl, and there might just be a little dog with a couple. Someone’s footsteps are going to resonate through the floors of that house, and someone’s going to rock in a creaky rocking chair on that porch.