Alain de Botton | Architecture and Happiness
The promise of a field
A field somewhere, just outside the town. For a few million years, it slept under a blanket of ice. Then a group of individuals with very pronounced lower jaws settled there, lit fires, and on a stone pedestal, sacrificed an animal to strange gods. Millennia have passed. The plow was invented, and someone sowed wheat and barley. The field belonged to monks, then to the king, then to a merchant, and finally to a farmer who received a generous sum from the government to sell it to the colorful procession of ranunculus, daisies, and red clover.
This field has had a lively life. A German bomber, off target, flew over it during the war. Children interrupted long car trips to vomit at its edges. In the evening, people lay down wondering if the lights in the sky were stars or satellites. Ornithologists trampled it with sand-colored socks on their feet, searching for families of chimney sweep thrushes. During a bicycle tour of the British Isles, two Norwegian couples camped there for a night and, in their tents, sang Anne Knutsdotter and "Mellom Bakkar og Berg." Foxes looked around, and mice embarked on exploratory journeys. Worms did not leave their burrows.
But for this field, time is up. The dandelion patch will soon become the living room of number 24. A few meters away, among the wild poppies, will be the garage of number 25, and there, among the white butterflies, the dining room where someone not yet born will one day argue with their parents. Above the hedge will be the children's room, designed by a woman working at a computer in an air-conditioned office in a complex next to a highway.
At an airport on the other side of the world, a man will miss his family and think of his home, whose foundations will have been dug where there is now a puddle. The village of Great Crosby will do its best to suggest its age and inevitability, but nothing more will be said about the chimney sweep thrushes, picnics, or the long summer evening when the notes of "Mellom Bakkar og Berg" echoed.