“The test of a person’s education is that he finds pleasure in the exercise of his mind.”
~ Jacques Barzun
There are so many voices today, clamoring to fill our minds with their thoughts, ideas, or opinions and repeat them as our own. Since each one of us is blessed to have total ownership of our mind, we should be aware of what we’re letting into them.
We should actually use our minds and think critically regarding the formation of our ideas and opinions. Our minds are like a garden that we should tend to with care. We need to give attention to what we allow to take root, and root out anything that doesn’t help to produce the positive mind we’d like to cultivate. Our minds are too valuable, too precious, to be treated as empty vessels just waiting to be filled with someone else thoughts. Filling our minds is OUR job.
There’s a lot going on in the world today and a lot people eager to do our thinking for us, with regard to how you’re to respond, act, and think. Let’s make sure that the opinions we have and the actions we take are the result of exercising the super computer between our ears, rather than sopping up what someone else pours inside.
Whenever you’re in a large or small group, professional or volunteer, and the opportunity arises to share your thoughts and opinions, do so!
When we silence our own voice by withholding our thoughts, we willingly hand over the ability to make or influence a decisions to those who do share their thoughts. We trade in our role as leaders and resign ourselves to passengers on a course someone will chart for us.
You have thoughts, insights, and ideas that could benefit those around you. However, they benefit no one, if they remain solely in your head.
On Monday we took our 5 year old Siamese cat Chewy to the vet to be put to sleep. He was suffering with the last stages of heart disease. Chewy is the big one in the picture below.
As my wife and I noticed Chewy getting worse we made 2 decisions:
- To love him well, all the way to the end
- To put him down before he was in pain or having trouble getting around
Chewy was a very lovable and affectionate cat, so the first decision was easy to follow through on. For me, loving him well meant not only petting him and continuing to say nice things to him during his last days, it also meant being with him until his very last heart beat in the veterinarian’s office. He brought me a tremendous amount of joy, so it was my privilege to usher him out with love.
Following through on the second decision sucked. We could tell that Chewy’s time had come, but that didn’t make it any easier. It was hard to scoop him up in my arms and take him to the vet, knowing that for him, it would be a one way trip. Although we knew it was the right thing to do, it didn’t feel very good.
Letting him go beyond this point, because we didn’t want to do what was hard, would have been cruel to Chewy and would have gone against the first decision we made, which was to love him well to the end.
While we miss Chewy’s presence, we are grateful that we followed through with our decision regarding when to take him in. Even though it sucked.
Last Sunday my wife and I went up to Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range. It’s a great spot that affords commanding views of the Cascades, the Willamette Valley, and the Pacific Ocean. The day we were there was sunny and beautiful, which made the scene all the more spectacular.
When my wife and I were dating (multiple decades ago) we used to go up to Mary’s Peak often. We’d go with friends to have a picnic and watch the sun set. Those were great times resulting in fond memories. We’d sit up there and talk about future events and discuss how much we enjoyed living in and exploring the Pacific Northwest. The views from Mary’s peak always left me feeling energized and excited to be alive.
Our visit last week was no different. As we hiked the summit and sat around enjoying the view, I felt the same familiar excitement I did all those years ago, and still feel today. It’s an excitement to get out and experience the world around me. An excitement to travel, try new things, to do my best at work and in my personal pursuits, to be the best husband, family member, employee, friend, and Christian I can be.
Naturally scenic settings, especially on sunny days, have always caused me to feel that way. There’s something in their beauty that makes me want to do and be my best. I was glad to see that my excitement by and for these places hasn’t changed.
Are there places that energize and cause you to want to do an be your best? I encourage you to revisit, or even discover the places or events that get you excited to be alive. Because the world needs people who excited about doing and being their best.
By the time this blog is posted, Halloween will be over, leaving Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching. As I think about where these 3 holidays fall on the calendar, it causes me to wonder if that wasn’t by design versus merely a coincidence. It seem that Thanksgiving is strategically positioned. Here’s what I mean…
On one side of Thanksgiving you have Halloween. The focus of Halloween, as I remember from childhood, is to get as much candy as you can. And based on the kidos that come to my door every year, it seems like that focus hasn’t changed. On the other side of Thanksgiving there’s Christmas, which at least in the US, can have a strong focus toward consumption and accumulation.
Right in the middle of these potentially greedy holidays, we have Thanksgiving. The focus of which (along with the great food!) is to take a moment and remember what we have to be thankful for. While giving thanks and gratitude may not be as fun as eating candy and opening presents, I think Thanksgiving serves as an important check point. Instead of letting our Halloween sugar high propel us directly into the frantic consumptive pace of the Christmas season, let’s use the Thanksgiving season as a time to tap the brakes a bit on consumption recognize all we have to be grateful for.
My guess is the blessings you currently possess are far greater than any present you’ll find under the tree this year.
This month my wife and I had our 25th wedding anniversary. Since we’re both big fans of the fall season, we decided to celebrate by going to New England (Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine) to see the leaves change colors. We had a great time being “leave peepers” and seeing all the spectacular colors and cool things in the area. I’m sure we’ll be back!
As I looked at all the magnificent scenery, I couldn’t help being overwhelmed by how creative God is. In addition to all the brilliant leaf colors, we saw everything from incredible landscapes to an amazing sunrise over the Atlantic (we’re from the west coast, so I’m used to seeing the sun set over the ocean). The natural beauty that surrounded us was a constant reminder of just how much detail and creative effort God has put into His creation. I was constantly being blown away.
Since we were on our anniversary, I couldn’t help but think that God put in that same creative effort when He created marriage (Gen 2:24). Just like a beautiful sunrise or brilliant fall colors, God created marriage to be something good, to be enjoyed by people who experience it. I for one am grateful for His creation of marriage and feel blessed to be able to experience it.
Last week my wife and I were in Acadia National Park in Maine at a little cove along the rocky shoreline. As we entered the cove we saw a young girl standing about where the waves would come ashore. With the arrival of each wave, she would stand her ground with determination, and not move back until the water had actually covered her feet. At that point, she’d scream with glee, run back a short distance, and, when the water had receded, she’d return to the point where she thought the water from the next wave would stop. She seemed to be having a great time, captivated by the surf and the environment around her.
This went on for several iterations, each time with her parents calling her name and suggesting that she move further back so as not to get wet. It was as if the girl didn’t hear her parents, or didn’t care about getting wet, because after each wave she would return to stand her ground. It was cool to see her so engaged in her present environment.
As I watched her I couldn’t help but wonder if this child’s life was being changed in this moment. Was she developing a love with the Atlantic Ocean or oceans and beaches in general? Would this moment cause a desire for her, as an adult, to want to spend time at the beach? Was I looking at a future marine biologist, or someone who will devote their life to protecting our oceans, or perhaps just a young girl who was enjoying the moment?
Regardless, I enjoyed watching this young person being so engaged with their beautiful scene they were in. And just maybe, I was fortunate enough to witness an event that will forever change her life.