What is the bigger purpose?



This is a small piece of a larger question, and I share it tonight because it hit me about an hour ago

There is this old tale of a monk, who is traveling the lands when he comes across a rock quarry.  A tired, frustrated man is chipping away at a large boulder with less than no enthusiasm, all the while cursing the lot he has been given.

Curious, the monk approaches him and asks him what he is sculpting.

Annoyed, and staring in disbelief at the audacity of someone asking him such a silly question, the man snaps “what does it look like? A boulder!”. He stares coldly at the monk, then continues his stone chipping.

The monk turns and continues to walk, slowly realizing he is in a rock quarry, and that there are many more stone workers like the first, all around him.  They too, are cursing their lots, looking tired and irritated, all chipping away at boulders.

As the monk slowly walks through the quarry, he sees the large rocks at various stages of completion.  It seems that they are being shaped into large cylinders.  But for what?  Every time the monk asks a sculptor what they’re for, he gets a snappy remark, or ignored altogether.  No one seems happy with their work.  No one is satisfied.

It is on his way out of the quarry that the monk notices someone a little different.  This man is sculpting the rock, same as all the others; but there is something different about his manner.  He is smiling, and humming to himself.  He is playing with his chisel, and, focused yet easy, striking with purpose.  He seems light.

The monk approaches this scupltor, and again asks him what he is doing

“Me, well I am building a temple! It will be the most beautiful work of art you have ever seen!”

What’s the point? I thought of this tonight, while I was slowly scratching some adhesive off of a surfboard I am finishing. (note, do not use cheap tape!)

After 2 hours of slowly scratching the tape off, and taking care not to damage the top deck, I had become so largely annoyed with the detail and tediousness of this task, that I had forgotten the goal of the task: that I was building something custom, one of a kind, and beautiful.  It was then that I remembered the story of the monk, and concurrently realized that it is too easy to get lost in the details of our lives and our self importance.  We often forget that we are here for the great good of making a difference for other people in our lives, and shut ourselves off from the joy and the passion of the greater world we are contributing to.

Take a moment to step back, and think about the difference you have made to someone’s life, through a smile, contribution, or kind comment.  Even how your job, as tedious and fruitless as it may sometimes seem, is contributing to a larger cathedral in the world, which brings opportunities and prosperity to those associated with it.

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