I look outside and I’m fascinated by construction.

Don’t get me wrong, I hear all the people who say that there is no beauty in rods being aligned and cemented together. What draws me in is how the foundation starts from scratch and is built upwards till it becomes a site. From an abandoned lot, it becomes a huge structure daring to touch the sky. It is fascinating to observe how a myriad of substances combine together give meaning to a structure. How rods support bricks that become walls and walls hold the monument.

I find this phenomenon rather synonymous to our lives. How we begin as abandoned lots in sketchy places and then are suddenly overwhelmingly occupied. Our foundation supports and houses people in. Our monument becomes a home to those who after a long day want a place they can call their own. To some, the site becomes a place they’re just passing through-a quick stop before heading elsewhere. Some are envious of our monuments and what it stands for. Some look at it for inspiration. Some just pass by without stopping. Such is the beauty of being a monument constructed among many others.  People who are drawn to us WILL stop by and regardless of how fancy our monument is, some never will.

Outwardly our monuments can be whatever we make of it. Bright yellow paint with long bubbly letters – inviting and attracting the most populous group. Dark grey with black distinct scribbles that only arouse a prominent feeling of grimness and attracts a handful among those passing by. The irony lies within the structure. Bright colors may be deceiving and dark colors may surprise you. What is fascinating is regardless of the outward appearance of your structure, some people will be drawn to it. To them, your monument brings about a compelling sense of nostalgia. To them your monument represents all they stand for. Those who look beyond the theatrical impressions of outwardly appeal WILL stop by and make your monument their home. Those who will fail to look beyond the bright walls and toasty letters never will.

I think all my life I’ve been frantically searching to find myself in the eyes of those who pass me by. I try to find reasons for their detachment. Reasons for their unwillingness to stay. I paint my walls bright orange and red and yellow. Then exasperated by their lingering disinterest, I do the worst possible thing I could do to myself: I compare myself to the monuments surrounding me.  “They’re fancier” I tell myself. “They’re brighter”. “They’re better lit”. I beat myself up wondering why travelers who have apathetically rejected my haven find refuge in other monuments. Not once do I look around and find comfort in the haven my monument is to small birds, to travelers in the long cold nights, to kids playing hide and seek inside.

I’m so engrossed in how my monument compares to others at this point that I stop taking care of my harbor. I wear myself out and my walls start closing in on me. My own sanctuary starts suffocating me.

My structure starts collapsing.

You see the thing is, I spent so much time hallucinating the grimness of my structure that it was what became of me. Regardless of the number of inhabitants my structure was a home to, I let rogue travelers and intruders fool me to believe that my structure was inferior to those they visited.  I let myself forget that people who were drawn to what my monument stood for didn’t care for what it looked like. They didn’t care if my walls were painted bright blue or dull grey. To some, my monument was a place of worship, a reminder of home, a symbol for hope. However, I was so consumed by the impressions of bright colors and toasty walls that I let myself believe that my structure meant nothing.

That is why I look outside and I’m fascinated by construction. That is why I look outside and I’m even more fascinated by how synonymous building a monument is to my life, to our lives. We let ourselves be built from abandoned lots to beautiful structures only to disintegrate it ourselves. We dwell in the opinions of apathetic, uninterested travelers and try to find faults within ourselves.

If we only took a step back, we’d be surprised by the number of inhabitants who look at our monument as their safe haven. Despite of our bright or bleak walls, our monuments are home to many who don’t see the minute faults that are so magnified by us.

If we only took a step back, we’d realize that our monuments are worthy of worship. That they are truly and magnificently exquisite.

Naushaba Abedin loves writing because amidst the crazies in life, it gives her the perfect getaway to pour her heart out. She’s currently majoring in Speech Pathology and Child Development at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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