Throwing a Bunch of Stones Together

Bill Abbate
Image by Tibor Lezsófi from Pixabay

We build our lives by what we do each day, but what will we have in the end? Have you ever thought about how similar living our life is to building a structure such as a pyramid? The parallels are undeniable.

Imagine building your life as you would build this pyramid. You will start by gaining the knowledge needed to prepare yourself, develop a plan of what it will look like, with its height and width. You can then lay the foundation and begin acquiring materials.

Over a lifetime, you lay one stone next to or on top of another. You must, of course, acquire the stones and labor to put them in place. Ultimately you wind up at the pinnacle. Placing the final capstone completes all you have worked for to that point in life. Let's expand on this analogy.

Building a life

When we are young, we gain knowledge in school to prepare us for what is next. Hopefully, we have done some planning, deciding to do our own thing, go into a trade, or head off to college. Completing our training or education and finding that first job begins laying the foundation for building our future.

"In life it is possible merely to throw a heap of stones together, but this pile is not beautiful. We pyramid to the heights only when we lay stone on stone according to a plan." Admiral W. N. Thomas, D.D. (1892-1971)

Our future is much like building that pyramid. You do have a vision for your future, don't you? If you do, envision what it will look like when completed. If not, what will you build? Without a plan, will you haphazardly lay one stone on or next to the one before and wind up with an unwieldy heap of stones? Is this not the way too many people build their lives?

Or perhaps you will never finish your first foundation before moving to the next and others after that. Throughout your life, you may build many foundations. Unfortunately, you will have little to show for your effort with no finished structures.

A life built

Or perhaps you know what you want. Let me give you a personal example of how this can work.

I completed the preparation and planning stage, laid the foundation, and finally finished my pyramid when I retired. The life or pyramid I had envisioned was one that would support my wife and me with a reasonably comfortable retirement. While I missed the mark by a few years, I laid that final capstone in 2013.

Yes, I took the traditional path of gaining enough education, then stumbled into my first job after serving in the military. That job laid the foundation on which I would build my career. I acquired new skills and could envision what I wanted to build early on. My vision was to complete the structure (my pyramid) to support early retirement. I labored for decades, acquiring each stone and carefully placing them upon each other. My pyramid, in this case, was following my plan to save and invest in building a portfolio for retirement.

There were naturally many fits and starts along the way. Even the best-laid plans are subject to what life can throw at them! Who can plan for the setbacks that happen out of the blue? Things like the early death of a loved one, making course corrections in your career, sickness, recessions, and so on.

But when you have a plan, work the plan, and never give up, the likelihood of achieving it increases significantly. Completing the plan I made in my mid 20's took nearly ten years longer than I had hoped, but complete it I did!

Building more

A funny thing happened after retiring. I went back to school, became a professional coach, laid a brand-new foundation, built a successful coaching practice, and have since retired a second time! This second pyramid was not as large as the first, but I purposely capped it off much quicker after making a few adjustments to my vision.

Has that stopped me from wanting to build again? Not even close! Since completing my second pyramid, I became a published author and writer! Yes, I am now working on my third pyramid, but this one is different. This time I envision a much larger pyramid. I see myself building on it for as long as I live. I want to complete as much of the structure as time allows, laying stone upon stone as high as possible until I can lay no more. I know this structure will be magnificent regardless of how much I complete.

If you have not guessed it already, this pyramid is the legacy I will leave in my writing. I have laid an even larger foundation this time to continue to build far into the future. I am so thankful for the time in which we live. Once something is put on the web, it has a virtually unlimited life. At least so far as we can see now. Who knows how long it will last, but I know my writing will continue living long after I am gone. Perhaps someone will discover it one day, and it will help them in their life! That is my dream. To have completed as much of this final pyramid as I can, building it as high as time permits.

Final thoughts

Could I possibly complete a third and start on a fourth? Only time will tell! I can always make adjustments if I want!

The main thing for me is I am fortunate and blessed to be where I am and to have found my purpose in life. I live to give back and help others live fuller, more rewarding lives, both in the present and for years to come. That is my dream, and I will continue doing what I can to make it come true so long as I can!

I leave you with one question, what does your pyramid look like, and when do you plan to complete it?

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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