opportunity is like a bar of soap


One day at school, we did soap carvings. I was about ten years old, and remember the day distinctly. I had come with my bar of soap and my little pocket knife, bristling with excitement because we were finally doing something cool in school.

I remember our teacher told us we could get started, and I attacked my bar of soap with vigor. I hadn’t the faintest idea what I was going to carve. “It’ll come to me” was my approach (which is still my main mantra)—and it did.

The only problem was, once it did come to me, I’d already carved away so much of my soap that the remaining bar was insufficient to create the boat I had envisioned. I wanted a new bar of soap, but I didn’t have one, and I had to settle for a far less grandiose carving than what I wanted.

Such is opportunity.

I’ve since reflected on this experience and thought about how similar it is to life. Every day, every month, every year tends to wash away opportunity. Every increment of time that goes by represents that much less of a chance we have to be remarkable.

There’s a distinct sense of urgency behind catching a vision early of what you want to be, and then working towards that goal with vigor. The sooner you catch that vision, the more likely it’ll be for you to achieve it.

I stumbled upon the following poem that illustrates this nicely…

by George Washington Doane

Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy
With his marble block before him,
And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,
As an angel-dream passed o’er him.

He carved the dream on that shapeless stone,
With many a sharp incision;
With heaven’s own light the sculpture shone,–
He’s caught that angel vision.

Children of life are we, as we stand
With our lives uncarved before us,
Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
Our life-dream shall pass o’er us.

If we carve it then on the yielding stone,
With many a sharp incision,
Its heavenly beauty shall be our own,–
Our lives, that angel-vision.


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