Once there was an elderly carpenter who was preparing to retire. He had been in the industry for many years, and while he was once quite talented and passionate about is work, he no longer felt fulfilled by his career and knew that it was time to make a change. So, he went to work one day and told his employer of his plans to leave the business in pursuit of a more leisurely life.
Of course, the employer was sorry to see this accomplished worker go, but he understood the change he sought and he wished him well on this new chapter of his life. Before bidding him his final farewell, however, the employer asked the old builder that he build one more home as a personal favor home to him. The carpenter agreed to grant him this request and slowly began working on his last project. Over time, though, it became apparent that his heart was not in his work: he dreaded coming to work each morning, he often left early, and he resorted to shoddy workmanship. Even the employer was saddened to watch him work, as it was a very unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.
When the carpenter had finally finished his work, he called his employer to inspect the house. After thoroughly reviewing the home, the employer handed the key to the front door to the carpenter and said, “My friend, you are a fine builder and a prize employee. This home is yours. It is my gift to you!”
The carpenter was shocked. “What a shame!” he thought. Had he only known that he was building his own retirement home, he would have done it all so differently. He would have cared more about the outcome.
And so it is in real life, is it not? We are the carpenters, and each day we build our lives, one day at a time, often putting less than our best effort into our work. And then, with great shock and regret, we realize that we must live in the house that we have built for ourselves. We look back at our work and wish that we would have been more diligent. We think to ourselves, “If only I had known, I would have done it so differently.”
But, of course, we cannot go back. Instead, we must live in the homes that we have built for ourselves. We must carry on and learn to appreciate and find beauty in even our shabbiest work, and perfect our skill with each project. This thing called life is a do-it-yourself project, and the choices we make today is what lays the foundation and builds upon our homes of tomorrow.