Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tearing Down: Tuesday's Reflection

These signs are scattered throughout our neighborhood of homes built primarily in the 20's and 30's. Some of those homes have not been well tended and need lots of care. Many are small and not conducive to the ways families live their lives today. But many more, if not most, continue to offer satisfying shelter for the owners who have chosen to live in this pleasant urban neighborhood. 

The problem comes when a house is sold to a developer or builder who decides to tear down the existing structure and build a new home. In most cases those new homes do not fit well into the neighborhood. They dwarf the homes on either side. They are usually the most expensive house on the block, but not the most attractive, at least to those of us who love the eclectic cottage, bungalow, and Tudor styles of the current home. Seeing these new homes pop up is jarring and frankly, upsetting, especially when we like things the way they are and have always been.

There are arguments to be made for both sides of the issue, and one hopes there can be compromises and collaboration along the way, but this morning as I walked, I wondered about a "personal tear down."

What needs to be torn down within myself? And once the lot, my ground of being, is cleared, what needs to be rebuilt? Do I need to start completely over--what a challenge that would be at age 68--or are there are parts of who I am that could stand renovation and remodeling?

What have I not tended to over the years? What kinds of updates make the most sense and would add value to who I am, but still maintain my essence? What do I need to do to add to my health and wellbeing, but also to the lives of those around me?

These are the kinds of questions that present themselves as we enter the third chapter of our lives? How is it we most want to live now and what is the legacy we want to leave? 

Writer/philosopher Mark Nepo challenges us to a second time of discovery. I like the idea that more inner discovery awaits me, and my suspicion is that I will discover areas in need of transformation, but also parts of myself that are in good life-enhancing shape and are worth preserving. 

One more thought: Over the weekend a friend and I went on a guided walking tour of Summit Avenue in St Paul, which is the longest street of Victorian homes in the United States. Such fabulous homes, and we enjoyed learning about the history of many of those homes, including the largest home (36,000 square feet) in Minnesota, the J. J. Hill House. Across the street from this historical home is the St Paul Cathedral, a daunting European style cathedral. Hill was approached by the archbishop to donate funding for the construction of the cathedral, but Hill didn't want such a massive structure across the street from his home, and he didn't contribute to the cause. Money was found, however, and five homes were torn down to clear the space for the cathedral. All this occurred in the early 1900's. Not even the powerful and rich railroad magnate James J. Hill could prevent the teardowns! I don't know who was on the right side of that argument, but I am certainly in awe every time I pass both the cathedral and the Hill House.

This story, as well as the ongoing evolution of my own neighborhood, reminds me to be mindful of what needs preservation and what needs overhaul in my own life.

An invitation
What about you? Are you doing any major remodeling in your life? I would love to know. 


  1. I like your questions. It's a long time since I did any renovation on myself. You gave me pause, and I'm setting some time aside to sit in the sun each day (while our good weather lasts) and leave myself open to some self exploration. Thank you!

  2. Bravo!!! I suspect you don't need much "renovation," but good for you for taking time to continue your inner work.


All respectful and relevant comments are welcome. Potential spam and offensive comments will be deleted