All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.
For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our todays and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build…
Build today, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall tomorrow find its place.
Thus alone can we attain
To those turrets, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain,
And one boundless reach of sky.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from “The Builders”
Whether we build monuments or sell coffee or run governments or push strollers, we serve an important and necessary purpose. We—together—make this world whole. But it only works if we do our unique and special part; it works only if we are authentic and genuine.
This isn’t easy in a world where individuality is a rare commodity. Everywhere we are flooded with chain stores selling the same clothes, the same coffee, the same food. Everywhere we have plastic surgery to lose our unique ethnic expressions of beauty—shapes of eyes and hips and textures of hair. We fear being ourselves. We fear dancing to the beat of our own drummer.
There is not one way to be. There is not one journey. A cathedral could only be built because there were bricklayers and painters and stained-glass makers. Everyone did his or her own job. And now this world—more than ever—needs us to do our jobs, to go deep within and be the poets and plumbers and politicians this world needs.
We know what to do; if we are quiet, we can hear the beating of our hearts, the unique song of our soul. And maybe then, by doing our part, we will be able to become authentic architects of Fate and see beyond where the eye sees the world as one vast plain, and one boundless reach of sky.