How many towers have we built during our lifetime that keep crumbling down? How often are we left with the remaining stones clueless as how we can rebuilt them? Like a puzzle, where crucial pieces were lost forever and new ones need to be created to make it whole again.
I am sitting facing Bruegel’s Tower of Babel at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Every time I come to visit, it makes me stop to admire it.
There is a group of young girls in front of it that partially block my view. They are hardly looking at the painting, some have even their backs turned to it talking among themselves. They move to go, one of them turns around, points her mobile phone and clicks. She is happy with the result and moves on. They haven’t built many towers in their lifetime yet and I wish the ones they do, can stay erect without crumbling too soon.
I look at the Tower again. It is being built in a spiral and when you look carefully, you can guess the outcome. Some of the arches in the upper layers are already crumbling down. These were built before the foundation and lower layers were even finished. The workers seem oblivious of the looming disaster, busy trying to fulfil the vision of the king visiting the grounds.
We are still under the illusion that one day we will reach the skies and become one again. A unity that will not be separated by language, moral values or religion beliefs anymore. We build higher and higher buildings but somehow we always seem to fall short of what we are aiming for. There is always the next best thing to distract us and before we know it, in a matter of seconds sometimes, it all comes crumbling down.
What took months or years to build, destroyed in a moment. Wars, earthquakes, building accidents, anything can shake the foundations. And more often than not, there is nothing we can do to avoid it.
We rebuild again, over and over, hoping this time things will be different and the towers will stand tall forever although we know there are no guarantees.
Sometimes it is important to allow our inner towers to fall and crumble. We can always rebuild. Using new materials, more determination, more balance and a lot of hope we can almost reach the skies. But what to do with the fallen pieces still left on the ground?
We can just leave them where they have fallen as a reminder they no longer serve our purpose or fit anywhere. It is time to move on and build afresh.
How many towers have I built you may ask? Many! I have left many of the pieces along the path I chose. I remember where but I never went back. I fought to create a new path by looking ahead mostly. Although also sometimes to the sides, I think a little deviation is never bad, you never know what you may find.
On this often prickly path sometimes I wonder why I have chosen to build certain towers but I know now that they served a purpose and made me grow into the person I have become.
So build your lifetime towers and don’t be afraid when they often come crumbling down, you can always rebuild. And you never know when you may succeed in making them stand proud forever or at least as long as you need them to.
For all those who are suffering right now in this crazy world of ours, who see their world crumbling around them, we feel your pain, we all wish we could do more.
May all your towers be rebuilt soon and new fresh paths take you towards a better future.