Loyalty is the crowning characteristic of love. – Jeffrey Holland
How beautiful is youth! how bright it gleams
With its illusions, aspirations, dreams!
Book of Beginnings, Story without End,
Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend!
Aladdin’s Lamp and Fortunatus’ Purse,
That holds the treasures of the universe!
All possibilities are in its hands,
No dangers daunts it, and no foe withstands…
I name no names; instinctively feel
Each at some well-remembered grave will kneel
And from the inscription wipe the weeds and moss,
For every heart best knoweth its own loss…
By Time, the great transcriber, on his shelves
Wherein are written the histories of our selves,
What tragedies, what comedies, are there;
What joy and grief, what rapture and despair!
What chronicles of triumph and defeat,
Of struggle, and temptation, and retreat!
What records of regrets, and doubts, and fears
What pages blotted, blistered by our tears!
What lovely landscapes on the margin shine,
What sweet, angelic faces, what divine
And holy images of love and trust,
Undimmed by age, unsoiled by damp or dust!….
The image is the Adversary of old,
Whose beckoning finger points to realms of gold;
Our lusts and passions are the downward stair
That leads the soul from a diviner air;
The archer, Death; the flamming jewel, Life;
Terrestrial goods, the goblet, and the knife;
The knights and ladies, all whose flesh and bone
By avarice have been hardened into stone;
The clerk, the scholar whom the love of pelf
Tempts from his books and from his nobler self.
The scholar and the world! The endless strife,
The discord in the harmonies of life!
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books;
The market-place, the eager love of gain,
Whose aim is vanity, and whose end is pain!….
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
How pleasant it is that always
There is somebody older than you…
Someone to call you a baby,
To laugh at you when you’re wise;
Someone to care when you’re sorry,
To kiss the tears from your eyes;
When life has begun to be weary
And youth to melt like the dew,
To know, like the little children
Somebody’s older than you.
The path cannot be so lonely,
For someone has trod it before;
The golden gates are the nearer,
That someone stands at the door.
I can think of nothing sadder
Than to feel, when days are few
There’s nobody left to lean on,
Nobody older than you!
The younger ones may be tender
To the feeble steps and slow;
But they can’t talk the old time over–
Alas, how should they know!
‘Tis romance to them-a wonder
You ever were ever a child at play;
But the dear ones waiting in heaven
Know it is all as you say.
I know that the great All-Father
Loves us, and the little ones too;
Keep only childlike-hearted-
Heaven is older than you!
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude. Attitude, to me, is more important…than the past,…than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home…The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past; we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is [to change] our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it…We are in charge of our attitudes.”-Charles Swindoll
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
No measure words-but pouring them
All right out-just as they are-
Chaff and grain together-
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them-
Keep what is worth keeping-
And with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.
-Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
She was not going to let up. Despite the fact that it had been years since I had paid a visit to the Dentist Office and this was one of the reason I so disliked going, Rolanda was not going to spare me any lectures or strong opinions she had about the inside of my mouth. But, in the back of my mind I knew that when this was all done I had a delicious rebellion planned—a 32 ounce Dr. Pepper and Dark Milky Way bar. Revenge was going to be sweet. Nothing says petulant rebellion better than rotten teeth. Nothing says ‘I am sticking it to the man’ like poor hygiene or the outward semblance of it.
Meanwhile, the second half hour of the painful lecture had just started and I all I could do is silently suffer the double dose of ignominy with my mouth wide open unable to say a word back to interrupt Rolanda’s stern stream of words. At that point, I started to wonder why I was even here and then I remembered that in my excitement of the New Year I had made a bunch of goals and one of those goals I had made in the height of my delusion was to go to the Dentist more often than zero times a year. It seemed like a doable goal at the time and how painful could it be going from zero to one. Apparently, it was going to be both painful and humiliating as Rolanda had convinced the dentist of the immediate need for a crown. It took all my willpower to not bolt out of the chair and run down the block for that Dr. Pepper now! But my natural low self-esteem prevailed and I stayed put like the obedient dog I am.
Then among the all the pain and suffering a ray of light divided the deepest black shadows covering my thick cranium. Why should I feel bad? Maybe my goals weren’t as insufferable or as regrettable as I was making them out to be. Sure I had made a mockery of oral hygiene in my past, but today, even if it is only today, I had decided to stop the lampooning and change my evil oral hygiene ways. I had become less imperfect today than I was yesterday and that was a good thing I am pretty sure. That was the whole point of making the goal, wasn’t it? To change the course of my life ever so slightly from where it was last year. That’s all I ever ask of my humble and modest goals. So lighten up, Rolanda. I, of course, kept this thought to myself I can only handle so much change in one day. I’ll make speaking up to large dental assistants with a large array of dental tools a goal for next year.
Now is better than Never.
When I was about eight years old, my older brother gave me and my little brother a record. I think it was my first record ever and it was the soundtrack to Rankin/Bass’s animated production of the Hobbit. Apart from Glenn Yarborough’s singing, the part I loved the most was the riddle off in the dark between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum, or the river-folk formerly known as Smeagol. My favorite riddle was the one Gollum gave to Bilbo about time:
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
The river of time does flow on, bones go brittle, bodies stoop, skin wrinkles and sags, and brains addle, and then it is time for us to ride that Stygian wave. Time and death are absolutes, but they are not the only absolutes. Other absolutes include the fact that we all have purpose and we all paddle on in our light canoes towards perfection imperfectly.
We are all of infinite value. We are more than our race, religion, nationality. We are more than our extremely small ears, our disproportionately sized head, and our un-partable hair that just grows straight up. We are more than our biology. Biology does not determine our fate or our fortune. We are more than our favorite sins, our pet preferences, our damned desires, and our fair-haired hobbies. We are more than our careers, titles, degrees or lack thereof.
We are more than our past. There is hope, we can always change and that is why the present, the now, is important. As far as determining our present and future actions, we are not beholden to our yesterdays. But it is hard to make those changes if we don’t ever make goals. Life then becomes like a football game with no end zone and all our dreams are just winged thoughts flying away into the maddening air.
Making goals can be rough, though. It does require us to come face to face with what we didn’t do last year and confront and take stock of our past laziness, our “gentle ways”, our procrastination and our failures. It requires us to examine the real us. That is never as pretty as we pretend it is on every other day. It makes us wonder why we are still stuffing our faces unable to move away from the TV.
Most of us are bound to miss our marks when we make our goals, but goals are not so much about reaching them and marking them off of our list. Goals can be thought of as destination points on our rocky but sublime journey. Goals are about keeping us moving forward in our lives towards something worthwhile, towards something with both rhyme and reason, towards something infinitely noble and good, slowly discovering who we are and how cosmically cool we poor clods can be.
“Too many Americans have been screaming ever louder for more and more things we cannot take with us and paying less and less attention to the real sources of the very happiness we seek. We have been measuring our fellow man more by balance sheets and less by moral standards. We have developed frightening physical power and fallen into pathetic spiritual weakness. We have become so concerned over the growth of our earning capacity that we have neglected the growth of character.”–Thomas S. Monson
“If we were all to bring our misfortunes into a common store, so that each person should receive an equal share in the distribution, the majority would be glad to take up their own and depart.”
Do you know what you have asked for the costliest thing
Ever made by the Hand above?
A woman’s heart and a woman’s life–
A woman’s wonderful love…
You have written my lesson of duty out;
Manlike, you have questioned me.
No stand at the bar of my woman’s soul
Until I question thee.
You require your mutton shall be always hot,
Your socks and your shirt be whole;
I require your heart to be true as God’s stars
And as pure as His heaven your soul.
Your require a cook for your mutton and beef,
I require a far greater thing;
A seamstress you’re wanting for socks and shirts–
I look for a man and a king.
A king for the beautiful realm called Home,
And man that his Maker, God,
Shall look upon as He did on the first
And say: “It is very good.”
I am fair and young, but the rose may fade
From my soft young cheek one day;
Will you love me then ‘mid the falling leaves
As you did ‘mong the blossoms of May?
Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep,
I may launch my all on its tide?
A loving woman finds heaven or hell
On the day she is made a bride.
I require all things that are grand and true,
All things that a man should be;
If you give this all, I would stake my life
To be all you demand of me.
If you cannot be this, a laundress and cook
You can hire and little to pay;
But a woman’s heart and a woman’s life
Are not to be won this way.