There was an afternoon I spent putting office furniture together. In fairness, I am not a fan of putting office furniture together. To be honest, I hate it. I am not a fan of the instructions that come with the furniture, nor am I a fan of the person who ordered this furniture. However, life does not always come with attractive options. Sometimes, the only option is to suck it up and do it. So I did.
I spent hours assembling different furniture. I was sweating. I was frustrated. But more, I found myself questioning the unexplained extra parts and pieces. Meanwhile, in the other room was a small computer table that was still packed in the box. The outside of the box read “Estimated Assembly 45 Minutes,” which, this may or may not have been true. But I wouldn’t know.
It seemed that someone in the office thought they could put this together. I suppose they wanted to be helpful. I suppose they thought the job was easy. I guess they were wrong. It took me about an hour to disassemble what they put together and about another hour to assemble the desk properly. So much for the assembly time of 45 minutes.
Since then, I have learned the importance of reading directions. Another thing I learned is if something doesn’t fit smoothly, then maybe it doesn’t fit at all. Makes sense, right? I tell you a person can learn a lot about life while assembling office furniture. Not every direction is clear but so long as there’s a picture in mind, at least we know what the finished product is supposed to look like.
I can say that I have a picture . . .
As a matter of fact; I’ve had this idea for as long as I can remember. The idea is simple and yet, the idea changes or better yet; the idea evolves the older I become. This is my most special trick. I work on this in my special place where no one sees. I shape and polish the parts and pieces. I have a picture that I follow and I’m careful with the extra pieces.
Like anyone else in this world, I have been following a blueprint that was given to me at birth. I was taught what life is supposed to look like. I was taught about manhood. I was taught how to make a living. I was taught what to say in an interview and how to carry myself on a job site. I’ve said this before and I will say this again, I was never taught how to be happy. There’s no set of directions for this, nor is happiness one-size-fits-all.
For years, I put on a uniform. I am no different than anyone else who works for a living. I wore a suit and tie. I wore slacks and a button down shirt. I’ve worn shoes, sneakers and boots. I’ve worn coveralls and blue collar shirts with my name on an emblem that is stitched above my shirt pocket. I have worked in clean places and dirty ones. I’ve had my share of hostile work environments and I’ve met my share of angry bosses. All the while, I was trying to find this blueprint that was given to me, as if to say, “Here you go, kid. Now go get a job and make a living.”
I have worked in different industries. I’ve seen the best and the worst of wherever I worked. I’ve met my share of miserable millionaires. Yet, I found myself like the person who tried to put the computer table together. I was forcing myself to fit. I was building my life according to the plans I was given but nothing fit smoothly. I couldn’t understand the directions on the box.
There are other people who talk about this. In fact, I am told there are famous speakers and authors who write about the blueprint of life. But I don’t know them. I only know me. I only know what my picture is. I know that I have been working for more than half of my life. And there’s more to go. However, at this point, I know more about the picture I want to build. I know more about what this looks like and how the old directions I’ve followed have set me back.
The reason I say this is because time is so abundantly short. Life is finite, which means our days are limited. Our time is limited and at times, we are limited too. We limit ourselves. We limit our beliefs because we have fears of worrying about what happens if our beliefs do not come true. What if everything we believed was untrue, and yet, here we are, living a life according to the only blueprint we learned about. Yet, none of this fits smoothly.
I have this vision, which I am going to tell you about. This is me, at bare minimum with no decoration or any design to make me out to be anything other than this: ME.
I want to build something. I want to create and connect parts and pieces together. I want to build a string that connects people to one another. Put simply, I want to help build new hopes and destroy the old ideas that keep us from our greatness. I want to build a place where we can be whomever we choose, safely, and without judgment or pressure to fit the mold.
I have watched people destroy their own lives and not just through bottles or pills. I have seen people work themselves into their graves and all the while; they never did what they wanted to do. Instead, they only did what they were told to do. At no point did they understand that they could break the mold or create a new plan for themselves. At no point did they understand the wealth of their dreams and the worth of their lives.
I said goodbye to an old friend after his retirement recently. Afterwards, I heard someone mention that retirement means that every day is like a Saturday.
“So enjoy it!” they said.
I thought this was beautiful.
I say this is beautiful but retirement and I are too far apart. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it is important to enjoy now. So, in an effort to create that string of endless Saturdays and boost my happiness — I have decided that I need to focus more on that picture in my mind. I need to stop forcing pieces that don’t seem to fit. I have to understand that things go together for a reason—and at the same time, things don’t go together for a reason.
Here’s my picture:
I see a farm. I see kids who have a hard time at home. I see the abused and the hurt and the sick. I see this place. People smile here. I see this place as a safe haven for those who have been rejected. This is a place for those who struggled or saw themselves as worthless or weak. This is where the bullied go to be celebrated. This place is special because no one bullies. No one hurts you. You can be safe here. You can clean up and reshape your life. You can learn anything you want on this farm. You can learn how to live. You can learn how to read and write. You can learn about animals or how to put computer tables together.
This place is not all that I have; it’s everything that I have. This is my blueprint. This is where people can heal and find their own blueprint with no pressure. The only rules here are that everyone has to clean up after themselves. No hurting allowed. No bullying. No laziness either. There’s way too much work to be done and like I said; time is finite, which means I have to get working. This is my picture.
I don’t want to miss the opening day of my farm.
I think I’ll have a big sign made and hang it high above the opening gates.
It’ll say, “WELCOME TO THE SECOND FAMILY”.
I hope you’ll help me hang it.
It would mean a lot to me.