Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Long Good Road

There is a short feature near the back of each Money magazine issue called “How I Did It.” This month’s (March 2006) was written by Fred Murrin, 55, from Greenville, PA and is subtitled: “I’m a pilot who couldn’t afford to buy the historical planes I wanted to fly, so I built them from scratch.” Here is the entire essay:

The first replica I built was a German Fokker Dr. 1 triplane. No plane
existed, so I had to do a tremendous amount of research. I found an
original WWI-era engine, which I extensively restored. I also reverse engineered
the propeller, which I carved from birch and walnut. The next plane I built was
a British Sopwith F1 ‘Camel.’ I found all the original instruments, even the
machine guns. I started to build the plane in my shop, but it outgrew the space,
so I rented a hangar to finish the work. That project lasted about 12,500 hours,
and I did everything myself—from working during some of my lunch hours to
tracking down parts across North America.

I worked an average of 14 hours a week, so it took me about 18 years to finish the plane. Building both planes cost less than $39,000, and I did that on a five-figure
engineer’s salary. I saved money for the plane by thinking of it as an extra
monthly car payment. Today both planes are worth almost 10 times their cost, but
their value isn’t really that important. My passion is WWI aviation, and flying
these old planes is what drives me.

I have always admired people who are passionate about a hobby, whether it be a runner who participates in races all over the country, or a hunter who takes hunting trips, or a collector of stamps, or reader of books, or what have you. My next door neighbor loves to tend her yard and garden, and they are exquisite. I think hobbies are fascinating (and healthy).

But you can probably guess what really jumped out at me about this story. That’s right: “12,500 hours. 18 years.” Can you believe it?! Here’s why I admire that so much. Murrin could have put himself into debt up to his eyeballs buying a completed plane so he could fly it immediately. But I’ll bet he knew a deeper truth that eludes many people in our “instant gratification” culture: The anticipation of having something, coupled with the challenge of working towards it, hugely enhances the reward of receiving it. Related to this, the character that is forged in us as we work towards our goal is often a greater reward than the goal itself.

This is difficult, friends, but it is a deep and rich truth. We are tempted to think that if we could just snap our fingers and make our marriage better, or our finances better, or our golf game better (speaking personally) THEN we would be happy, but as Thomas Paine once put it, “That which we obtain too easily we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods.”

Here is a good question: What do you really want? Now here is the follow-up: What are you willing to give up, what are you willing to do differently, what are you willing to do more of, and how long are you willing to work, to realize that goal?

Here’s another valuable question: What kind of person will you have to become to realize that goal? That is what ultimately separates God-honoring dreams from superficial ones. Because what we become is far more important to God and significant than what we have.

2 Comments:

Blogger aggiejenn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:12 AM  
Blogger aggiejenn said...

So true. I like this thought: "what we become is far more important to God and significant than what we have."
I tend toward the instant gratification side, so patience is always a struggle for me. Thanks for your thoughts. I'm going to quote you on my blog, "Reflecting Him", today. Hope you don't mind! :-)

7:14 AM  

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