I'm taking my own advice today. For once. I'll have to start making a practice of it if I intend to find anything worthwhile to write. In reality, though, I'm not taking my own advice so much as the advice of Dale Carnegie. The quote I refer to is to your immediate right and down a ways, but I will repeat it anyway:
"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today."
I think Carnegie was onto something here - a truth that has been hanging over the heads of the human race since the very begining. Who of us has not desired to be in a different place and time? Who has not said to oneself (though in not so many words), "I will be happy when such-and-such a date or this-that-and-the-other is done." You can fill in the blanks. We've all said to ourselves that life will be better when the school year is out, or when a final is over, or after taxes are due, or once pay day comes, or once an assigned speech, talk, or presentation is past... the list could go on forever.
But in this fast-paced, mortal world, forever is something we simply don't have. It is not known to any of us how long our probation on this earth will be. We can't afford to always be looking to our "magical rose gardens over the horizon." Not when there are so many roses blossoming around us where we stand.
For example - it has snowed where I am. Several feet put itself down over the weekend, and with it came the truely cold weather. One would imagine that any kind of roses short of those made of silk would be a sheer impossibility. Walking home from campus after the day's classes, the air was maliciously bitter. I could feel the sensation leaving my face, ears, and fingertips. By the time I got to the first traffic light - the halfway point - I was no more capable of fast speech than I was of sprouting wings. On top of that, the day had been long, finals approach, and I had caught a cold the day before. This was the point at which I was wishing to be a thousand places and a thousand times other than where I was - not the least of which included Italy, St. George, Hawaii, or at my grandparents' house in front of a roaring fire.
This was the point at which I had to try to remember my own councils. I looked around and tried to find a blessing, a piece of magic in my immediate surroundings. The trees were bare and black, their skeletal branches laden with snow. The contrast was truly beautiful - the white on the dark, sillouetted against the eventide sky. I also noted that several trees on the corner had been coated with colored Christmas lights, which sparkled beautifully in the midst of the busy street. And blessings - I had a home to go to, not two blocks away, and I was wearing a heavy winter coat. Sure, I was an imbecile to forget my gloves and scarf that morning - but a coat is more than many people can claim ownership to. And I was just returning from being educated and one of the best universities available to me.
I sang carols all the rest of the way home, even though I was the only one to hear them. And once I got there, I found yet another gift besides - after the chill and bite of the day, the presence of wool socks, internal heating, and hot food made this little apartment seem the most blessed place on earth.
This holiday season, as you go about giving and getting, I encourage you also to not neglect what you've already been given. Fill your life with gratitude, every day, and the beautiful things - the blossoming roses - of your own here and now will jump out at you as never before. I'll try my best to do the same.
Until, next time, dear readers - and a Merry Christmas!