If I had a hammer

Story time again-another retold tale.

A carpenter whose skills were well known to all his co-workers was about to retire. In fact, he had, in his mind, already retired, and he looked forward to when the project he was working on would be finished.

He worked for a large construction firm that valued his skills. He had done good, solid, professional work for decades for the firm, and his employer was quite sorry to see his best worker go. He asked the carpenter to stay on “just a bit longer” and to do one more project, a house. Reluctantly, the carpenter agreed. The employer had been good, and, in fact, deserved this favor from the carpenter.

He agreed. He would build one more house.

But, truth be told, his heart simply was not in it, and he worked fast. Faster than he had ever worked. His only aim was to get this one last job done. He cut corners and “overlooked” some errors that he would never have committed before-let alone leave uncorrected. It was not the best way to end his career.

Finally the house was finished, and the employer came to inspect it. As the employer was about to enter the house, the carpenter lowered his eyes. He knew. But, the employer paused on the steps, and said, “For all these years I have greatly admired how much intent and meaning you put into your craft. I know what your work has meant to you. And so, after all these years together, I just wanted to give you something that I knew you would appreciate. This house is yours. Here are the keys.

Ask yourself,How cheated would I feel if I were that carpenter?

What have I wrought? What personality do I call home? How much concern do I have for it? With each nail that I drive, each time I feel the heft of a board, each selection of materials to use, how much do I care?

What is my level of integrity? If someone pays me to work, is the money the only thing?

Is EVERYTHING I do constructing me? Is there anything I have ever done that didn’t affect who I was, who I would more likely be, who I COULD be? What doors have I nailed shut long ago? What stairways did I not finish?

Am I worth a better dwelling? Given all the tools available today for working on one’s personality-these exercises, therapists, books, courses, and philosophies-what am I considering for the renovation of me? How much effort would I put into this place of retirement?

If someone in a restaurant serves me and does it with energy and panache, how thankful am I that they “were there” (for whatever reason) to fulfill that role? How much do I honor the integrity of the lives of others? Does that echo how I treat my personality? Is my personality a good servant or only working for minimum wage? How can I honor myself?

What emotions, attitudes, morals, beliefs, talents, and skills am I supporting with the joists of my intent?

When I make a mistake, what do I do?

When I do something just right, what do I do?

What do I want to be when I die?