Poolside Reflections

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A Pocketful of Stones

Out for a walk along our graveled country road, I spotted a perfect “bug” stone. In the past I have done some painting on rocks and my grandson has been pestering me to paint some more bugs. So as I walked along I was keeping my eyes open for smooth stones that would paint up into neat little beetles.

I picked up the stone and slipped it into my pocket. Before long I spotted another … and another. Some stones were oblong, some oval, one perfectly round and flat. The perfect ladybug.

Tumbled centuries ago — maybe for years — in the water currents until they were nice and smooth, these stones came to rest in an underground pit. Men came along with big machines load all this gravel onto trucks and spread it on our road bed. Many stones have come through this process intact.

After I’d pocketed half a dozen stones of various sizes I began to feel the weight of them. They weren’t rough or disturbing, just gently heavy. That side of my jacket pulled a bit as I walked. And I was seeing more “perfect bug” specimens that I could take along with me. I had to start saying “No more. Nice shape or not, it stays right there!”

I have this tendency to look down at the road as I walk, but I soon realized that if I didn’t want a pocketful of rocks weighing down my every step, I’d need to keep my eyes fixed on the horizon until I was home.

Funny how such small things can teach a big lesson. Those stones really aren’t a valuable commodity of themselves. If I use them profitably — paint them up and please the grandson — well and good. But if I set them aside when I get home, saying, “Someday I will,” they become just one more clutter, another item on my to-do list, another weight on my mind.

In our electronic world we can lose focus, too. There are so many interesting social sites to suck up our hours, we can lose sight of our important life-goals. I haven’t picked up Facebook, Twitter, etc, but was involved in Linked In for a time. So much to learn, so many groups to connect with! And now I have a book to promote, so two weeks ago I picked up a weighty stone when I signed up for Goodreads. So many interesting books to read and review, friends to make! I can see how this site alone could consume a lot of time.

I have my blog and read or follow many others. Some days dozens of e-mails and notifications flood my Inbox; I find myself checking my e-mail twenty times a day and spending hours responding. Lately I have definitely been feeling the weight!

NaNoWriMo has been sending out notices lately, too, reminding me to sign up for the November novel-writing adventure. I plan to participate this year; yesterday I filled in the synopsis for the children’s story I hope to write.

My walk-about the other day reminded me that I’ve let many small things distract my long-range goal: the books I want to write/finish. Someday there will be an end to what I can accomplish in this world. If I don’t stop frittering away my time and weighing myself down by picking up appealing, but trivial, stuff along the way, I’ll have little to show for my time here.

Just A Little Word

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Just a little word of kindness,
just a little word of love,
just a little smile of tenderness,
all are blessings from above.

Just a little thought of comfort,
just a token that you care,
just a little gesture of sympathy,
may be answer to a prayer.

Just a little smile of happiness,
just a little song of peace,
just a word of praise at eventide,
will give the soul release.

For the little bit of kindness
and the little bit of care,
the little bit of tenderness,
are the essence of a prayer.

—Author unknown to me

Knowledge

by Archibald Lampman

What is more large than knowledge and more sweet;
Knowledge of thoughts and deeds, of rights and wrongs,
Of passions and of beauties and of songs;
Knowledge of life; to feel its great heart beat
Through all the soul upon her crystal seat;
To see, to feel, and evermore to know;
To till the old world’s wisdom till it grow
A garden for the wandering of our feet.

Oh for a life of leisure and broad hours,
To think and dream, to put away small things,
This world’s perpetual leaguer of dull naughts;
To wander like the bee among the flowers
Till old age find us weary, feet and wings
Grown heavy with the gold of many thoughts.

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Book & quote

Committed to Optimism

Arthur Tennyson, brother of the famous poet Alfred, developed cataracts in his later years and gradually went blind as a result. Nevertheless, his determination to look on the bright side was an inspiration to those who knew him. Discussing his loss of vision with a friend one day he said, “God has sent me to His night school.”

Arthur lived to be 85 and, though his sight was gone, he used his other senses to observe his surroundings. He was enjoying a walk one spring morning when he met up with a friend, to whom he expressed how excited he was by all the joys of spring he could hear and feel around him.

Modern medicine has done wonders to increase the pleasure of our older years, but nothing beats a positive outlook.

Courage

by Edgar Guest

Courage isn’t a brilliant dash,
a daring deed in a moment’s flash;
it isn’t an instantaneous thing
born of despair with a sudden spring.
It isn’t a creature of flickered hope
or the final tug at a slipping rope;
but it’s something deep in the soul of man
that is working always to serve some plan.

Courage isn’t the last resort
in the work of life or the game of sport;
it isn’t a thing that man can call
at some future time when he’s apt to fall.
If he hasn’t it now, he will have it not
when the strain is great and the pace is hot.
For who would strive for a distant goal
must always have courage within his soul.

Courage isn’t a dazzling light
that flashes and passes away from sight’
it’s a slow, unwavering, ingrained trait
with the patience to work and the strength to wait.
It’s part of a man when his skies are blue;
it’s part of him when he has work to do;
The brave man never is freed of it.
He has it when there is no need of it.

Courage was never designed for show;
it isn’t a thing that can come and go;
it’s written in victory and defeat
and every trial a man may meet.
It’s part of his hours, his days and his years,
back of his smiles and behind his tears.
Courage is more than a daring deed:
it’s the breath of life and a strong man’s creed.

From his book A Heap O’ Livin’
© 1916 by the Reilly and Britton Co.