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Mission Without Portfolio

August 21, 2019

35 years ago, to the day, Liz and I first awoke to our home. Two years in creation, 10 months in building, the sun streamed in a one bedroom home, and a childless couple started the first day for the next 35 years.

It was also my 29th birthday. My wife’s half birthday. Dates do not care about you, you care about them. And I do not care about them, I care what they mean to others..

Career Launched before 30. The American Dream.

1000 projects, 800 built, a two bedroom addition, 2 children, a barn, 8 books later, I now have another irrelevant Birth Year. 29 was on the verge of something. Now 64 is on the verge of something else. But all in the continuum of this time each of us has.

The “success” part is never understood by me.

I made payroll last week, but need a bunch of checks to come in to meet the next. And I dropped off a crew to measure a church, pro bono, yesterday. “Time and Money” is the secular mantra of all profane life, but Mission is the metronome. Time is circumscribed by forces we do not control (our parents’ passion, the beating of our heart). Money is really at the mercy of others. But the force to make things happen was given, or infected, into me from a quietly terrified childhood. It was a Mission Without Portfolio.

That baseline, Mission, is now a word becoming as hackneyed as Beauty. Like all cliches, Beauty and Mission start with a black letter reality of what no one understands, let alone controls: who we are. As dates pile up, the resume gains weight, love should be the frosting that connects and creates every confection, but it’s mystery is confounded by its primal importance. I, no one, earns love – it simply is. Given or it is unknown. I do not choose to love, love chooses me.

But I have known the unloved. It is as inexplicable as the gifts that do not need birthdays, but have to be received to exist. Fear can make any gift a threat.

My inabilities are stepping stones. To what? I certainly do not know more than the Next Thing. And gratitude. The inexplicable grace of being given pretty much everything, is hard to assess in a world of time and money.

12 years ago, after a loss that lost all chance our son’s team to have a season of Record, where those awards, so often impossible for the overwhelming majority of everyone doing anything, would simply not be possible for these dedicated, good, young men – because they failed – the coach said a simple thing.

Failure happens. Loss happens with every win. You are never adequate to your hopes, you can lose, lose, and lose again.

“But you can work.”

‘You can get better.”

“No one can take that from any of us.”

Perhaps my Mission is work.

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