Vacant land. It’s becoming more common throughout the suburbs of Melbourne. Properties are cleared of any existing buildings to prepare for new houses. As a town planner, I deal with this on a daily basis and it is part of the process of change in a city. Progress and regeneration – it is the way things work.
I wrote here about the home I grew up in, the home which had been part of our family for many generations. My parents sold it a couple of years ago, in order to move to smaller accommodation. It was a great decision and one we all supported. We also knew, based on what had been happening around us, that it was likely that our (former) home would be demolished by the new owners. And I thought I was ok with that.
The idea of our home being demolished was one thing. But when we drove past about a month ago to see that nothing, absolutely nothing, was left – well, I didn’t know quite what to think. Or how to feel. I knew it wasn’t our home any more. I could accept that. But now it was no-one’s home. It was no more. It was unsettling. I felt slightly disoriented – a key connection to my past was gone.
Tonight, I read this poem. It hit a chord, and shifted me from my unsettled state.
My end – by T.S Eliot (Collected Poems 1909-1962)
In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new buildings, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
Property – ownership – stuff. These change over time. Even houses are transient. In the end, they are things only – to be enjoyed while you have them, but not to be clung to too tightly.
I am grateful that we had our time for living and for generation in this home.
And I am grateful that, in the future, others will have the change to create a new life. In their new house – their new home.