I built a bed. Me. All by myself. My wife Jen e-mailed me directions from instructables.com (she’s subtle that way) last week, so on Saturday I went to the hardware store and bought the lumber and screws I’d need to get the job done. Of course, I was short some tools and had to purchase those too, but overall it wasn’t such a big ordeal. I followed the directions closely and before I knew it I was looking at a great little platform bed. I’ve puttered around with projects before; I have installed new faucets, ceiling fans and such. But this time I actually built something from raw materials from start to finish.
After I finished building the bed, I stood back and felt pretty good. Okay, so what if I didn’t actually come up with the plans for the bed? I’m not a carpenter, but the thing turned out pretty well. Which led me to wonder: why don’t I build more stuff? Over the years, why haven’t I made things that are useful and maybe even beautiful? In a way, I have always admired and even been a little envious of artisans who build things of utility that are also beautiful. Think Shaker furniture and grandfather clocks, that kind of thing. I envy them not so much because of the skill they possess, but because long after they’re gone, the works of their hands will still exist.
But upon reflection, we can all leave things behind whether we’re builders of fine objects or not. Isn’t that the real job of parents? To leave behind children who not only pass on legacy, but continue the work of making the world a better place? And not just children. We also leave behind our life’s work, be it professional or volunteer work. We might also leave behind our words, if we’re fortunate. Even if it’s not in the form of great works of literature, maybe it can be in letters to those we love so that they can gain some insight into what we found precious and worth remembering.
So I guess the point is this: build something that will last, whether it’s made out of wood, stone, words... or maybe even your own DNA. Get off Facebook and connect with someone in a way that they’ll remember always. My grandfather left things with me that I’ll leave with my kids, God willing, and that they’ll leave with theirs. Now that’s building something.