I mentioned this on Twitter a few days ago, but I truly enjoy watching things being built. That is not to say I sit outside of constructions sites for the purpose of entertainment (I do own a TV after all), but rather that I enjoy driving past places where something is being built.
When I was in sixth grade, I traveled by city bus to my elementary school. The bus route would take me down Main Street in Salt Lake City and I was entertained by the progress made on the One Utah Center being built on the corner of 200 south and Main. It was fun to see the progress each day and to remark now many new floors had been constructed each week. There is something quite powerful in watching a group of men use their strength, skills, and tools to build something that will serve as a souvenir to so many people throughout the existence of the building.
Just prior to my marriage, my employment consisted of running cable throughout different buildings for internet connections. My coworker and I were charged with running a cable from the source connection to the target office space. This resulted in a number of funny stories and experiences, but the point of this memory is that one of the buildings I worked in was the One Utah Center. Little did I know when I was watching it creep upwards so many years ago that I would one day be crawling around the ceilings I watched being built. With so many offices in one location, I can only imagine the many other experiences that have taken place in that building.
In Jr. High my school bus drove past the arena where the Utah Jazz play. That was another fascinating project to watch as the structure had to be completely different than the office building. Such a vast open space inside of a building is truly an architectural marvel to novices like me. There, once again, an enormous number of people have been in that building to experience a large assortment of sports and entertainment events.
To this day, my fascination with watching things built continues. I have actually altered my commute to be able to drive past the Megaplex Theaters at Jordan Commons in Sandy as they expand their theaters into the area where the Mayan Restaurant was.
As a bonus, a vacant lot across the street from the Rio Tinto Stadium (affectionately called the RioT) was recently purchased by someone who has begun building a small building with, what looks like, three or four different store fronts. Given the location, it will be interesting to see who moves in and how well they do there. Regardless, the construction provides some entertainment to me.
There is something symphonic about the manner in which the workers each contribute their part, the pieces all fit together in their sequence, and the whole is so much greater than the individual parts. And then there is the pride that must come from those who work on the building to be able to say, 'I helped build that - that's part of my contribution to this neighborhood, this society, this life.'
I suppose I just stumbled onto one of the reasons I find construction so fulfilling. My grandfather was a contractor/carpenter. When I was young, I would drive through the neighborhoods of Salt Lake City with grandpa and he would often point out houses that he built. As a kid it wasn't terribly remarkable, but as I've grown older, I've come to realize the importance each of those homes had to my grandpa and his legacy. Few will ever know the part he played in building those buildings, but he always will, and now so I will I.
I think we all want to leave a mark somewhere in this life, no matter how small - something that lives beyond our brief existence, that testifies to us having been here. In truth, the buildings themselves may be destroyed and replaced, but the legacy lives in knowing that those who built them played a part in an innumerable people's lives.
Knowing my grandpa helped build homes where lives were created, lived, and enjoyed gives him a physical presence in this world.
Beyond that physical presence, and the family legacy grandpa left behind, he remains with me in my joy of watching people create, build, and leave their mark on this world.