Saturday, December 4, 2010
BE GRATEFUL FOR OUR GREATEST GIFT
A Column by Bill Horne
Folks, I missed getting a column in last week for the first time in almost seven years. My wife has been very ill, and I also needed some hospital time for testing. To top all of this, our computer crashed.
I used to think I was getting old; however, I must now face the fact I am old, things are now beginning to wear out.
The Thanksgiving holiday gave me some down time, a commodity that is rare in my life. This quiet time also gave me a chance to put things into perspective. This “free” time gave me a chance to do some introspection and also watch some football.
Warning! This article is different than my customary topics. Life is fantastic, maybe fabulous is a better word, and is also very short. But most importantly, it is the greatest of all gifts. During the everyday rat race to support our lives, many of us forget to live and enjoy life.
So, the following are some random thoughts that I have had since I last communicated with you. In President Kennedy’s inaugural speech, he said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
We now seem to have more takers or users than givers. Too many of us don’t even want to give the time to serve on a jury or give an hour of our lives to vote.
We refer to “our” government as “the” government as if our government was a separate entity from the rest of society. I am constantly requesting that my students use “our” instead of “the.”
We don’t even want to take 30 seconds to properly dispose of our fast food trash. Instead of doing the right thing, we pitch it out the car window.
I have had the good fortune to watch 10,000 to 12,000 local citizens pass through my classrooms over the past 26 years. The good thing is that I remember many of the students who wanted to learn. One student who stands out in my mind, from about 15 years ago, I referred to my super “C” student. Other students sometimes thought this was a putdown, but she and I knew she earned mostly “A’s” with a smattering of “B’s.”
She accomplished this through the desire to learn and hard work. The sad thing is as the years pass on, more and more students feel they deserve a good grade just for enrolling in a class.
As I observe people, whether it is in a class or in a local store (I only shop local stores), or in meetings, I notice many people have a scowl on their face. Fewer and fewer people, it seems, smile. I attempt to smile and speak to people I pass in a store, at school or on the street, and more often than not the response is a distressing look that sends me the message I must be some kind of an idiot.
The days slip by one at a time, and we can remember very few of them. Right now, please, would you look back one year and see if you can remember more than five days. Those days where things happened to you don’t count. Things like a car accident, a flat tire, a raise in your paycheck or the loss of a job are things that just happen to you.
I am asking you to recall the days where you made a memory. You are going to be surprised by how few there are. We allow ourselves to get into the rut of a daily routine where each day is just like the days before and the ones to follow. At the end of a week, I ask my students to do something over the weekend that they will remember for the rest of their lives. To begin each week I ask, “Did anyone do anything that they will remember?”
Sometimes, from a whole class there will be no response. More than one response is extremely rare. In the freest country of the whole world, we seem to be spending our lives without living them. This old hog farmer hopes you will try to make a memory this week.
Owning shiny things is not important, fancy stuff to impress ourselves does not make much of an impression on others. New cars, fancy jewelry, big houses don’t impress other people; they just make us feel better about ourselves. For example, cars are meant to get us where we want and need to go. The “old timers” had a saying, “You can’t take it with you.”
Dreams of the young are extremely important. The best question you can ask a child is, “What are you going to be when you grow up.” It doesn’t make any difference what they answer. The goal is to start children thinking about their future.
When they have learned to write have them make a list of their dreams. Some of the things on their lists will be very simple, some will take a lifetime to achieve, and some will not ever be accomplished.
For those of us no longer young a bucket list will suffice. Just make a list of those things that you want to do, see or experience, and do them. If some of the things on your list will stretch your physical abilities, mental capacities or nervous system, so be it.
The last thought, is you and I are solely responsible for the attitudes of the people around us. This is just a thought for each of us to contemplate. (Please, remember I warned you.)
Bill Horne is a professor at Southern State Community College and a columnist for The Highland County Press.
Editor's note: Mr. Horne passed away Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010. This, his final column, was written on Dec. 1.