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Last week, my parents brought me a box of my old stuff. They found it during their move to Arizona. The box is filled with football and basketball cards, pictures, poems, and a few essays I wrote in high school.
The following story came from the box. Enjoy.
Nearing the end of a long, cold day,
an old carpenter pulled his employer, the contractor, to the side for a word.
“Hey boss, think my working days are done. It’s time I retire.”
He’d spent over three decades building houses alongside the contractor. His back ached. He woke each day feeling more tired than the day before. And he yearned to spend more time with his wife and extended family.
“I understand. You’ve been a wonderful partner all these years. Can I ask you to build one last home for me?”
The carpenter looked down at his muddied Red Wing boots. He kicked some sawdust to the side as he pondered the request. Seconds later, he extended his cracked, swollen right hand toward the contractor.
“Ok boss. One last house.”
As the carpenter began the new project, he showed signs of poor workmanship:
When sheeting the floor, he forgot to glue several joists, meaning it would squeak.
When building the walls, he didn’t plumb them, meaning they would lean.
When shingling the roof, he didn’t wrap the plywood, meaning it would leak.
His heart just wasn’t in it anymore. In fact, he’d grown resentful and wished he had never accepted the job. It was an unfortunate way to end a career and partnership.
After the final inspection, the contractor handed the front door keys to the carpenter.
“This is your house. My gift to you.”
He couldn’t believe it. If he had known he was building his own house, he would’ve done so differently. But now he had to live in the house knowing all the problems he created. All the problems he’d need to fix.
Like the carpenter, we don’t always do our best work at the right time. We build our lives distracted and resentful. Once we realize what we’ve created, we wish we would’ve done things differently.
And you can.
You are your life’s carpenter. Each day you hammer nails, carry wood, and build walls.
Do so wisely.
Because you aren’t building a house, you’re building a home.
And it’s the only one you got.
Don’t wait. Start small. Learn as you go.