Our Best Efforts

I drive to work the same exact way everyday. I drive along Monument Avenue and through the heart of the city to get to the office building where I work. Usually blasting NPR. Not paying attention to anything around me. I stare at the white line that divides my route, but don’t even notice the houses, the buildings, the people, and nature that actually make up the world in which I live.

I overlook these minute details and instead focus on the same road that gets me from A to B without ever diverging my thoughts. I never even think about how my surroundings came to be. I drive over a road that took days of hard labor and planning, and walk into a building where every single detail was thought out, all the way down to the difference of each door lock.

The under appreciated intricacy of a city took many years and thousands of people for each little block to be transformed into how it looks today. But the beauty of a city is that it is human’s feeble attempt to tame nature. We cut down trees and build roads just to hack away the weeds that grow between the cracks. We rake up our leaves and cut our grass so that we can have a normal looking home just to do it again the next week. We redirect waterways to better serve sewers and runoffs of the city. No matter how hard we try to construct barriers to keep nature out, it always fights back, with a resilience no human can conjure.

When I actually think about how every single brick was laid for a house and how every piece of glass was positioned in a stain glass window, it is a minuscule reminder of the grandeur of nature’s details. Every single blade of grass, all the leaves of every tree, every pedal of all the flowers; they all far out number the man power that went into making a city. And yet, we overlook them so often. We take for granted our incredibly purposeful surroundings and focus on ourselves. On our own desires and agendas.

It is so easy to look back at all the times that I have lived this way. Looking at my phone as I walk along a sidewalk full of historical and natural significance. Playing a pick up football game on top of billions of blades of grass. Driving in my car and only thinking about getting to my destination as fast as I can. It is only when I am able to pause, and truly observe the minutia of everyday that I can begin to appreciate why the small things around us make living so beautiful.

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