Oude en Nieuwe, Zelfde maar Verschillende

Oude en Nieuwe, Zelfde maar Verschillende

When I took this photo late last summer, I thought it was a great example of the juxtaposition of the old and the new. Husband and I were enjoying a lazy Sunday wandering around Haarlem, a favorite place to spend the day.

‘I really like how they built these modern buildings right next to historical ones,’ I recall telling Husband. ‘They paid tribute to traditional Dutch architecture while updating the look. The buildings really seem to belong together.’

(I know, how pretentious. Trying to sound all knowledgeable about architecture and all. Which I’m not. Not trying to sound pretentious OR very knowledgeable about architecture.  But I really did think that. So I did say that.)

Little did I know that this picture would become such a favorite of mine.

I find myself coming back to it time and again. Sometimes for a quick look, other times poring over it. Searching for new meanings, perhaps a portent of the future.

Why, you ask?

Because I’ve found that to me, this photograph is such a metaphor for life.  My life here in the Netherlands.

I’m not referring merely to the obvious: old building, new building – old life, new life. Of course that is true, but I’m talking about something less grandiose.

And I’m not talking about how these buildings are so typically Dutch in design. Which they are.

When I look at this photograph, I think ‘old and new, the same but different’.

I’m sure that whoever designed and built the newer buildings were fully aware that people would likely compare them to their older neighbors.

It’s human nature to compare. And when we compare, we have a tendency to talk in terms that sound judgemental. Sometimes this is unintentional, sometimes not. 

‘Different’ doesn’t have to mean ‘better’ or ‘lesser’ or ‘nicer’ or ‘not as good’.

Sometimes, if we’re truly careful, trying to describe ‘different’ is just that. Nothing more. No value judgement. No agenda. Just purely description.

And at the risk of sounding as if I’m preaching (not my intent), that’s how I’m trying to live my life.

That’s what I see when I look at this photo. Capturing the nuances and descriptions and minute changes and glorious differences. Without judgement.

Old and new, the same but different.


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