The Deceptive Permanence Of Cities

Cities have long lives. Many of the buildings stand basically unchanged as multiple generations of humans pass through their doors. The streets bear the traffic of life down the same old paths, through days and nights and decades, like ever-flowing rivers. It all looks the same, feels the same, year after year. Even the construction is familiar, the same cranes popping up in different places, the same traffic cones and men at work signs slowing down different roads in turn. Yes, some things do change, but the newness wears off quickly as the changes blend into the familiarity around them.  

Along with the buildings and roads, the crowds also endure. Every day they hurry and they wait and they fill the spaces just like they did the day before, rising and receding with the tides of mornings and evenings. And yet slowly, imperceptibly, within that eternal crowd there is constant change. Look closely over time and you’ll see that although the crowd remains, the faces within it change, constantly falling and being replaced like the leaves in a forest. The streets bear the traffic of feet, but they are not the same feet. The shops heave with life, but it’s not the same life. The city always looks the same, but it never is. Every day it’s different. Every day faces are lost. Every day new faces are introduced. Every day life goes on, just like it always has, but it’s not quite the same life. Eventually the crowd will be completely different and no one will notice because it will still look the same as it was the day before.

I look at the deceptive permanence in front of me and I wonder: what would it be like to live in a city that really remained, a city that never lost its faces? Such a city exists, I’m told, by a man who died and rose again to give me the key to a home there. I like the city I’m in, and I’m in no hurry to leave it, but I know my time here is limited. When my own face falls out of the crowd and the world moves on like normal without me, I’ll be okay. Better than that, I’ll be home. Forever.

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