Building may be the ultimate expression of purpose. Without intent, there is no reason to build.
PERHAPS IT HAS JUST been on my mind, rattling around in the subconscious and peeking out of the corners as if to tease me, or maybe I’m just imagining it, but it seems that the term (and the meaning of) purpose keeps popping up lately. It could be the result of the change of the seasons, apparent in the lengthening of the days and the almost imperceptible transition from the colors and tones of winter—white, brown and gray—to the pale greens and brightening blues as spring careens toward summer.
Winter is slow to leave the high country. While people in most places have long since traded warm coats for shorts and tees, snug shelter for sunlit open spaces, stick-to-the-ribs comfort food for backyard burgers and spring greens, the late storms of the season have made some of us wait, forcing us to reluctantly embrace patience and to contemplate this notion of purpose.
When we loaded the trucks and headed down the mountain for the final time last November, marking the end of our building season for the year, the concept of purpose, though present, was largely in the background. Our urgency then was on making sure our project was secure for those many weeks of silence ahead. But the long months of waiting to get back on the job, of longing to keep making progress, of gazing up at the high peaks cloaked in white, provided lots of mental space to fill and inevitably led to the question of why: what is the purpose?
Building may be the ultimate expression of purpose. Without intent, there is no reason to build. But how often do we actually stop and consider what we are truly trying to accomplish? Is it the notion of progress that we serve? Is it simply the pursuit of profit, of growth? Perfection of the craft? At the end of the day, are we seeking to satisfy some metric of success, and do we even know what that is? Each of us must answer the question for ourselves, because there is not a single answer, one purpose.
By the time anyone reads these ramblings, the sawdust will be flying again up at Mariposa; the air will be full of the sounds of delivery trucks, power saws, noisy compressors and nail guns, machinery for heavy lifting and the voices of builders working in the bright sunshine and crisp mountain air. There will be no shortage of things to occupy the mind, and purpose will seem a simpler subject as we race to make the most of every day, knowing that summer will quickly evaporate into fall and then, suddenly, the winds of winter will seek us out once again.
I am willing to concede that maybe it’s as much a function of age as anything else, but I’m determined to make sure, as we continue to make progress on our project, as we seek new solutions and develop new skills, as we go about even the most routine of tasks, that we do so deliberately and responsibly—that we act with purpose.