The Carpenter

By Michael Armijo


I received an email a while back that has always resonated with me. I find myself thinking about it from time to time, as the words it contained often remind me to work hard and be proud of what I’ve accomplished. It has encouraged me to continue to keep my heart within my work, as you never know what life will bring you. It is good advice, no matter who you are or what you do, and I share it with you now.

The Carpenter: An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife and extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The employer, who was sorry to see his good worker go, asked if he would build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you for all of your hard work and dedication.”

The carpenter was shocked; what a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we’ve built. If we could do it over, we’d do it much differently. But we cannot go back.

You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. “Life is a do-it-yourself project,” someone once said. Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the “house” you live in tomorrow. Build wisely, and remember: Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like no one is watching. Enjoy life like it’s your last day on Earth.