In the neighborhood where I used to live there is a building that has been falling apart for more than a year. It’s still standing – I don’t know what they do with it, but years of living in this city, away from my roots, have revealed the slow decay of this particular structure.
If I had to pick a dividing line between youth and adulthood, I would say it is the moment when you realize things fall apart. If we are very lucky, as I was, we grow in an environment where buildings stand and relationships last. But someday we learn: things fall apart.
We learn this when loved ones die too soon. We learn this when someone grievously lets us down. We learn this when jobs are lost, when opportunities disappear, when our hard work is met not with reward but with catastrophe.
This is adulthood, but not maturity. I believe maturity lies in the willingness to build on what remains. It lies in the hope that there is always goodness waiting around the next corner, because as surely as humans are capable of disappointing us they are capable of bringing goodness into the world.
Things fall apart, this is true. But love builds on the ruins, and this is true as well.