This I Believe

MARK - AMBLER, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 8, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I Believe…Building is a search for what’s best in us.

I’m a carpenter.

In my years fixing houses I’ve found building is more than nailing two pieces of wood together and collecting a check. It’s more about aspiring and making a connection.

To me, it doesn’t so much matter what you build; it matters that you build. Whether it’s planting a garden or growing a great family, approaching the endeavor with intention opens a connection to a different plane, helping us be better stewards of our daily lives.

Turning nothing into something–or turning something broken into something beautiful–tangibly connects us to…something. Call it God or energy, Plato’s Forms or Mojo, I can feel aspiration become action when I use my tools and know-how to change a vision into a reality. This fires me up and I find I’m not so concerned about the name of what I’m connected to, rather that I’m connected at all.

On a volunteer junket to a still devastated part New Orleans I saw this connection arc between the work-a-day electrodes of daily life and the Ether. I worked with a group whose job was to prepare houses for renovation. And by “prepare” I mean “gut.”

None in my specific group had much carpentry experience, but everyone had intention. They did what I believe all good carpenters—and people–aspire to do: leave a place better than they found it.

With yellow wrecking bars and blunt-force trauma, smiles and kind words they ripped down ceilings, scraped tile and hauled mountains of trash for (at least one man) who couldn’t do it himself. In so engaging themselves I believe they did nothing less than help shore-up the main beam of ethics and nobility.

But not everyday is a big trip to an extreme place. Every day—whoever you are—is…everyday.

Because there are so many days, they’re the days that matter. They’re the mass of life. They’re the time spent with family, co-workers and friends, days that often promise scant novelty. Still they’re moving with a lifetime’s momentum of importance and I’m reminded of what my family strives to build at home (including our home by the way—the land of the eternal home improvement dust cloud!)

In building a life with my fiancé Theresa and daughter Alexis, I strive to create something with purpose that enriches our existence. But life is a team sport and I’m daily humbled and happy Theresa stands with me, often leading our way.

We’re not summiting Everest or kayaking the Colorado. No, our blueprint calls for us to live each day kindly and well; to connect to that place out there that pulls us up from our routine, nudging us to be better and happier and to live good lives.

I believe that building is a search for what’s best in us—a search where I believe we can find that which we seek.