Envy isn't always a bad thing. My father died when I was just 22 years old. Our first child was just a
year old, and though we have a picture or two of them together, he can't say he ever knew him. The man my son and our two other children grew up calling Grandpa was Bill Harris.
Bill was a welder. He worked at a company in Wichita, Kansas, that built rides for carnivals and amusement parks. We could be at a village festival in Germany, a theme park in California or a carnival in North Carolina, and Bill could point out a ride and tell you more about it than the operators.
He would readily admit that he was just one part of the process, but that never put a damper on his pride in the work the team collectively accomplished. That's what I envied about him: his ability to give credit where it was due; his knack for letting others be admired.
Before he passed away, I flew out to Wichita to spend a week with him learning the art of wood turning. He was an amazing craftsman, and our family has plenty of items in and around our homes to attest to his penchant for quality.
I think about Bill a lot. As time passes, my memories are filled with his pride in workmanship, and I wonder how many of us take the opportunity to appreciate seeing others enjoy what we do for a living, or as a hobby, for that matter. It's easy to clock in, do the work and go home at the end of the day, never seeing yourself as an important part of the bigger picture, but we all are. Regardless of your position in your job — whether as the CEO of a large firm, the person who cleans the floors in a school building, or the one who makes lunches as a stay-at-home mom or dad — you are part of a bigger picture. And every part matters.
I’m reminded of where it says in the Bible, “...for the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?”
So whatever it is you do, do it well. You can flourish and be full of joy in knowing you are part of something bigger. With Bill, there have been hundreds of thousands of people who entered and safely exited amusement rides and never knew whom to thank for how much they enjoyed themselves.
And just like Bill, there are people counting on you to do a great job today, and whether it's today or twenty years from now, many of them will never know your name, but they'll be thankful nonetheless.
Photo: Dan DeBruler, Dorothy DeBruler, Jolene Harris and Bill Harris