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Building to Last

I’m on the train to Frankfurt, Germany from Switzerland with Kurt, my export partner for Issho Genki Squalene and other upcoming products. (He’s in his 70s but still keeps a very robust lifestyle dividing his time between areas around the world.) The train system across most of Europe is incredibly convenient, and with my Eurail Global Pass, I can go to any Schengen country, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain among others, at no extra cost. I was chatting earlier with my older brother, Joseph, about getting these passes and coming back with some friends later on this year as I may have t be back for our group’s small summit.

At Frankfurt we will be staying at the Hotel Monopol, which is conveniently located across the station. It is a small hotel in quite an old building dating back to the early 1900s. One of the beauties of Europe is its history, and the old architecture is quite amazing. It’s even more amazing when you consider that a lot of these structures were formed without modern construction materials and technology and yet here they are still standing more than a hundred years later, having gone through wars and all sorts of weather. We don’t build like this anymore. Nowadays, we’d rather build fast and cheap, tear down when it’s old and build a new one if we have to – once more, fast and cheap.

More and more my appreciation for stability and sustainability grows. Sometimes, let me blame it on my youthful stupidity and impatience, I value the adventure and the novelty of situations over wisdom and long-term implications. I’ve realized that taking the pains to build the proper way, with strong foundations, solid materials, and the right practices is far more rewarding in the long-run than temporary highs. I’ve realized that building to last does not mean sacrificing the joys of the present, but rather, it means laying a structure to extend these joys into the future and into the lives of others.

But while I don’t believe life’s joys should be sacrificed, building properly will definitely cost us. It will mean giving up a certain degree of comfort. It will also mean a certain economic cost as we spend on better training, better materials, and upgrading. It will cost us our destructive habits. It will cost us our unaligned ambitions. It will cost all I have listed above and more. Quarrying stone is much more difficult (and more expensive) than mixing cement, but stone will last longer.

Sometimes I hear a voice telling me, “Stop trying to become better. You’re missing the fun.” I’m grateful that the builders of the past never listened to her.