No. 1190



The Scottish essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) once said, “One life: a little gleam of time between two eternities; no second chance to us for evermore.” One thing for sure, none of gets a second chance to do life over, so it is the wise person who wishes to make the most of his or her life the first and only time around. As I thought about this I realized that each of us is really a snippet in time, which means a small portion or share. We presently share this planet with about seven and a half billion people, and of course there were billions more who were born, lived, and have now passed on from this life and gone out into eternity.
Sometime back a friend sent me something titled “An Old Farmer’s Advice” that will serve to place things in perspective. Since you are probably not a farmer, you may not be able to relate to many of these thoughts, but many of you will. “Your fences need to be horse high – pig tight – and bull strong. Keep skunks and lawyers at a distance. Life is simpler when you plow around the stump. A bumble-bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor. Words that soak into your ears are whispered – not yelled. Meanness doesn’t just happen overnight. Forgive your enemies, it messes up their heads. Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.”
“It doesn’t take a very big person to carry a grudge. You cannot unsay a cruel word. Every path has a few puddles. When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty. The best sermons are lived, not preached. Most of the stuff people worry about will never happen anyway. Don’t judge folks by their relatives. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer. Live a good honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time. Don’t interfere with something that is not bothering you. When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got. The biggest troublemaker you will probably have to deal with watches you from the mirror every morning. Always drink upstream from the herd. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Letting the cat out of the bag is a lot easier than putting it back in. If you get to thinking you are a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.”
And to end this advice, here is probably the best one: “Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.” Now for me, and I hope for you as well, this piece really puts life into perspective. As I said earlier, we are just here for a snippet of time – and some people live longer than others.
To amplify what I have been saying, there are some things in this life that we can control and many we can’t, such as an accident or an inherited terminal disease. When we are blessed to have a sound mind and body, we should strive to make the most of our opportunities. It has always been my conviction that we are each here to serve, to help other people and to make the area where we spend our time a little better than when we found it. Hopefully you are happy with your life and how you spend your days, but if not, make some changes, as someday they will come to an end. Attitude is really gratitude, and we should always be grateful for our blessings.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)