A life with a purpose has been compared to making an elaborate wooden piece of furniture, as for instance a cabinet with many shelves and draws. The pieces of wood are given to us in the shape of certain talents and abilities and events which happen to us. We are expected to cut and shape these according to the chosen traditional life plan and then polish them. Finally they are carefully fitted together.
The comparison brings out an almost universal fault: as we handle the pieces, we paint them with harsh and jarring colours of our likes and dislikes, fears and hopes. The ones with the unpleasant colours we are reluctant to handle and so they don’t get properly shaped or polished. The one’s with bright colours we hang on to and do not want to give them up to the unity of the whole. So the cabinet ends up with parts missing and other parts askew. “But if we don’t have some colour in our lives, what is there to live for?” There is something higher than a patchwork of jarring colours. When the unpainted wood of life is shaped and polished, the natural grain begins to show itself. This is not short-lived beauty; excitement which soon passes off and leaves an unpleasant reaction, but a harmony that calms and quietly invigorates the onlooker. Old pieces of furniture acquire a sort of lustre; their presence can change the atmosphere of a whole room, and they are prized more and more as the years go by.
A life which has been shaped and polished so that it’s true nature begins to appear, can equally calm and invigorate some of those who encounter it.
© Trevor Leggett