I watched with amazement as the worker picked up a stone. He carefully looked at the stone, walked over to the wall and held the stone up against the other ones already in place. He then turned around, picked up a chisel and began to knock away part of the stone.
When he thought he had the size he needed, he walked back over to the wall to check. Sometimes he was right. Other times, he had to reach for the chisel once again, taking away even more fragments of the stone. When he was completely satisfied with how the stone fit into place on the wall, only then would he cement it in place.
It was a painstaking job to even watch, but he seemed to enjoy making the stone puzzle pieces fit into the perfect place for the stacked stone wall.
Not far from the wall was a huge stack of stones. In front of the man was an entire unfinished side of a building. Anyone would be happy to know they had changed the shape of a single stone to fit into the wall. But to this man, it was just one stone of thousands that would have to be fitted, each one taking its position to become a part of a larger wall.
What used to be mounds of unattractive rocks ended up becoming a beautiful stacked stone wall. The man could not stop and be pleased with himself for chiseling one stone to fit because he knew there were many left to be dealt with in the same exact way. One stone by itself seemed insignificant, but together with the other stones, it became important.
The man attached only three or four stones to the wall during the time I sat in our car watching him while my wife, Debra, was in a store.
Why are we so fascinated by the process of things being built? I think its just part of our make-up to enjoy witnessing something being transformed into something else. Many years ago, when the building that is now known as the Fickling Building in downtown Macon was being constructed, my granddaddy took his heavy, cumbersome motion camera down to the site and filmed. Almost every day he would film what had happened the day before. Hours and hours of footage were captured of the building being erected.
To me, it was monotonous and boring. But to my granddaddy it was exciting, since he was a builder of sorts himself. Having seen the footage many times as a small child, I never drive past that building that I dont think of my granddaddys crude documentary of its creation.
Watching the worker the other day as he performed his tedious and time-consuming task with the stones made me think. Everything has to begin somewhere and is made up of many different elements. Whether it is a huge skyscraper, a beautiful stone wall, a sturdy bridge or even a delicious meal, it takes time, effort and different components to change something from what it was to what it can become.
Our lives are very much the same way. Everything that happens to us -- from when we are born until we take our last breath -- becomes a piece of our life and forms who we are.
The start of a new year always causes me to take a look back at the previous year. I re-visit all the things that happened and take note of what I learned from the experiences. Whether it is something positive that was celebrated, or something negative that is now regretted, I look back with the understanding that things happened for a reason. Otherwise, they wouldnt have happened.
Looking at things in this way can be an extremely useful tool in proceeding into a new year. Even so, I sometimes find myself dwelling on the negative issues when I need to learn a lesson from them and then move on.
While my son, Blake, was home visiting for the holidays, we were talking about things that I really was disappointed I hadnt accomplished in the past year. Blake reminded me of something I already clearly knew but needed to hear.
He said, Dad, why are you even thinking about those negative things? They are in the past. They obviously happened or didnt happen to you for some reason. Maybe you dont understand right now but, in the big picture, it will all make perfect sense.
As we enter a new year, we all need to remember that building a life is very much the same as building that rock wall. We have to take the things that fit and use them. If they arent perfect, we need to chisel away the unneeded parts until they can be used. If we cant make them fit, or they are not useful to us at all, then we have to just let them go. Otherwise, well never be able to build the life were supposed to have.
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