My wife and I planted a tree yesterday. Well, trans-planted a tree, actually. Planting this tree wasn’t a significant event in the grand scheme of our family’s life, but it was noteworthy in a sense.
The tree was a “grandbaby”. Last spring for some reason, dozens of Japanese maple seedlings sprang up in our yard from the seeds dropped by a much larger Japanese maple. This crop of seedlings was unusual – our Japanese maple was about 15 years old, but seedlings like this had only sprung up 1 other year. I dug and potted about a dozen of these, and left about a dozen more growing in an otherwise unused planting bed. We’ve given 2 or 3 away and plan to give away more.
So yesterday, we planted the second-generation maple tree in a position of subdued prominence.
What does this have to do with construction? Everything, when you consider that “construction” is kind of like “growth”. Although we don’t know exactly what the tree’s specific appearance will be as it grows and when it is mature, we have a general idea. As a building is constructed, the contractor knows exactly what the building’s appearance will be, inside and out, because the architect has designed it, drawn it, and specified it.
Throughout construction the building grows from foundations (underground and unseen), to a structure that supports all other portions of the building (but which typically is covered by the end of construction), to the other building systems that enable the building to “work” and “thrive” in the manner it was intended, to the finishes (exterior and interior) that are typically the most visible part of the building. Once construction is complete, it is considered “occupied” and fit for the use intended.
Trees aren’t usually “occupied”, except by squirrels or birds. Trees are not typically considered to have “stopped growing” unless their demise is obvious or eminent. People … well, it’s different with people. We grow physically, for a time, until we are considered mature. But inside, we (hopefully) keep growing … we are metaphorically “under construction” so we are increasingly useful and fit to “work” and “thrive”. And the more we aim our lives in a trajectory that enables others to “work” and “thrive”, the more we grow … and the more our being “under construction” is evident to all.
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