Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sculpting a Life

Eknath Easwaran says, “With every thought, we are working on our destiny.” Like the sculptor whose every light as well as heavy strike against the stone shapes the final figure, so our every thought, word, and deed, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, is vitally important in determining the course and quality of our lives for better or worse and should be carried out with this kept firmly in mind. Yet, how many of us live this way? Don’t most of us make thoughtless strike after strike against the stone of our lives until too many of us regretfully end up with a final figure, a life’s work that is nothing at all like what we wanted it to be?

I have made so many thoughtless strikes against my stone over the last fifty-two years, and I’m far from satisfied with the figure I see when I force myself to take a close, hard look. I wonder whether there’s enough stone left and whether I have enough skill and vision to sculpt a figure I can be proud of when I come to the end of my days.

But what would I rather do? Go on hammering away at the remainder of my stone with thoughtless imprecision until the final result is sure to be crude and ugly, or do my very best from this point on to create something beautiful and inspiring with every strike of the chisel against what remains of my stone?

In his book Meditation, Easwaran writes:

It is no small thing to compose a sonata or write a perceptive novel; we are indebted to the great composers and writers who have given us beauty and insight into human nature. But I am most moved by the beauty of the perfectly crafted life, where every bit of selfishness has been carved away and what is felt, thought, said, and done are brought into harmony.

It may be impossible to craft a perfect life, but I would like to believe that most of us are capable of doing better, often much better than we do, and that our highest calling is to do our very best from this point on.

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