Unamuno, the Spanish philosopher, tells about the Roman aqueduct at Segovia, in his native Spain. It was built in 109 A.D. For eighteen hundred years, it carried cool water from the mountains to the hot and thirsty city. Nearly sixty generations of men drank from its flow. Then came another generation, a recent one, who said, “This aqueduct is so great a marvel that it ought to be preserved for our children, as a museum piece. We shall relieve it of its centuries-long labor.”
They did; they laid modern iron pipes. They gave the ancient bricks and mortar a reverent rest. And the aqueduct began to fall apart. The sun beating on the dry mortar caused it to crumble. The bricks and stone sagged and threatened to fall. What ages of service could not destroy idleness disintegrated.
Nicolo Paganini was born in Genoa, Italy, Oct 27, 1782. He was one of six children born to Teresa and Antonio Paganini. He was an Italian violinist and a composer, considered by many as the greatest of all time. Paganini died on May 27, 1840 and in his will he left his violin to the city of Genoa on the condition that it must never again be played upon. While it is true that the wood in a violin will wear slightly when it is handled and used, it is also true that when left alone it will crack and degenerate. That is what happened to Paganini’s violin. The once lovely toned instrument became worm-eaten and useless.
The exquisite, mellow-toned violin became worm-eaten in its beautiful case, valueless except as a relic. The moldering instrument is a reminder that a life withdrawn from all service to others loses its meaning.
Reflection Question: What makes you feel useful? Where do you feel you are useful?