By Geoff Tan
Life, for all of us, is but a journey of sorts. We tread this unpredictable yet compulsory adventure one step at a time, taking in whatever is dished onto the platter of our experiences, and making the best of each and every moment we have. As someone once said, “Live it once and live it best!”
The date of birth and the date of death on every tombstone merely speak of the length of life. Knowing how long a person lives is perhaps not as significant as the “dash” that unassumingly resides between the dates. How much this little “dash” is worth is dependent on the manner in which we live our lives, and how much good we choose to impart to the people around us.
Mother Teresa once said, “The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow, do good anyway.” This speaks volumes of the selfless attitude which this humble saint exuded when ministering to the poor and needy along the streets of Calcutta. Undeniably, some of us do good hoping to receive praise and recognition. The affluent society we live in perpetuates this even more and taints the wholesome innocence that’s at the very heart of selfless service.
Charles Michael Schwab, the American industrialist, lived by a business commandment which is, “In all things do your best. The man who has done his best has done everything. The man who has done less than his best has done nothing.” It’s true that you may not succeed every time you do your best, but neither you nor anyone else can fault you if you’ve put your heart and soul into the task.
A story is told of an elderly builder who was ready to retire. His boss was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he would build one more house as a personal favour. Although the builder said yes, his heart was not in his work and hence resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. When he finished building the house, his boss came to inspect it and handed the front-door key to him saying, “This is your house, my gift to you!”
I’m sure if he had known that he was building his own house, he would have given of his very best, as he had always done. Very much in the same vein as having to sleep in the bed you made, the builder had to accept the consequences of his poor effort. Regretting after the event will not turn back the clock and bring back the opportunity. You can only chalk it up as a lesson learnt, hopefully not to be repeated again.
Life is very much like building a house. Every phase we live through is akin to a part of the construction. Delivering consistent good work ensures a well-built home that you can cherish forever.
I figure if more of us can embrace Mother Teresa’s adage, the world will be a better and happier place to live in. “Giving off your best” can be positively infectious. If you’re already doing it now, keep up the good work. If you’re not, and only you would know it, today’s not too bad a time to start. Good luck!