What is it, do you think, that fascinates us about the destruction of “things?”
It seems that we are all fascinated with the destruction, demolition, and undoing, of seemingly sturdy objects. This was most apparent to me this week as one of the office buildings in our campus was torn down. Every break we went on, we walked the half block down the hill to spend 15 minutes observing and soaking in the sounds, sights, and feelings, of demolition. The crunch, glitter, and shimmy, of the falling concrete and glass. In between our breaks, we would check in on the deconstruction via a webcam set upon the neighboring building or through the windows of some of the conference rooms. When a large piece of what used to be a wall would tumble and break one of the remaining panes of glass, we would cheer! We are a diverse bunch of friends, yet we were each fascinated by this work of taking apart millions of dollars of building.
This got me to thinking about the act of “deconstruction”. As human beings, we are drawn to the act of creation: buildings, clothing, art, babies. Also as humans, we are equally drawn to the act of destruction. Before we can build a building, we must tear down trees. Before we can make clothing, we must take apart substances like cotton and wool. Before we can make art, we must definitely destroy with paint or dye. Before we can make babies, we must demolish the youthful body and toned tummy we worked all through our 20s to obtain.
There are 2 real reasons for this fascination.
First: there is such a great release of tension and loss of stress when something gets obliterated. Really….who hasn’t felt good when tearing apart something that just isn’t right for some reason? I think there is nothing better when I am really frustrated and angry than to break something glass. There are loads of people who rip paper for this very same reason. Even when the “thing” being taken apart is a relationship and there are hurt feelings….doesn’t it also feel good to take apart what is wrong? It’s the most amazing therapy!
Second: our undeniable need to build and make better. These are not mutually exclusive desires: demolishing and creating. There must be one in order for there to be the other. It’s a necessary cycle. The joy found in watching, I think, was subconsciously about the promise of something NEW. It’s thrill of change. It’s the excitement of the unknown.
We need to have that change in order to grow. Sometimes that change comes with pain and sorrow (such as with war) but is a necessary part of evolution. Our societies, and we as individuals, crave change even when it is uncomfortable and painful. The end always seems to justify the means for us. So as we stand around and gape at these piles of concrete and glass and PVC pipe, we are thrilled with the crashing and crunching because deep down we know that this will lead to something new and different. Even though it is just a building that we will most likely never go into…..its change around us.
Then again…..maybe it’s just that the sound of breaking glass is so cool!