So, Mom & Dad get the Mormon Times (Who knew it existed?), and apparently Orson Scott Card is a regular contributor. He wrote the following article, which is very insightful, and I thought it might give us all something to ponder as we set our new year's resolutions this next week. (Even if you don't believe in new year's resolutions, it should still give you something to think about.) Here's hoping for a happy 2010, filled with the very most important things, for all!
Looking back and comparing with others is often fruitless
Orson Scott Card, December 24, 2009
We take stock of our lives, from time to time. As some milestone approaches -- a birthday, a new year -- we look back and assess ourselves.
It's good to ask ourselves, "How am I doing?" But it's sad when we use such times to compare ourselves to other people.
Some people compare in order to gloat. Both David Merrick and Gore Vidal have been quoted as saying, more or less, "It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail."
Some people compare in order to excuse themselves. They see other people's successes and say, "They got all the luck. I just can't catch a break." As if there were nothing they could do now to improve their place in life.
Some compare in order to beat themselves up. "Here I am, 30 years old, and look what other 30-year-olds have accomplished! I'm a failure."
I know very well an accomplished woman, keenly intelligent, who has influenced the lives of many for good -- but she has always felt like a failure because she had neither money nor a bachelor's degree.
Yet I know many women with wealth, with doctorates, who would regard her as the most fortunate of women and wish they had accomplished what she has.
All my life I've loved to sing, and over the years, without any formal training, I improved my voice to the point where, in my 40s, I was able to sing all the high parts in the chorus of "My Fair Lady." I sing in the Mormon ward choir and take pleasure in singing with family and friends.
Yet as I now age out of that high tenor range, I feel keenly the fact that I didn't do more with my voice. I compare myself to real singers and feel as if I failed.
Yet it's what I chose. I spent my effort on writing fiction, plays and screenplays. The singers I compare myself to practiced constantly. They took every opportunity to perform. They honed their skills.
I was once invited to take part as one of the soloists in a performance of "The Messiah." It was a moment when I really had to face the difference between my dreams and my achievements. I knew what I expected, as an audience member, from a "Messiah" soloist. I also knew that, if I worked hard for months, I could probably do it.
But I did not have the time to put in that work. I had writing deadlines to meet. I had speeches to give, meetings to travel to, friends to visit with, books to read in order to have something to write or say.
And at that moment I realized the difference between ambition and daydreaming. My degree of "success" at singing reflects exactly the amount of effort I put into it.
The gloaters, the excusers, the regretters all make the mistake of comparison, as if the achievements or failures of others erased our own. Yet God has no quota such that, when enough people have been saved, all the rest will be turned away.
The Savior said, in parable, that those who were hired in the morning for a penny have no call to resent those who were hired much later in the day, and receive the same penny for their work (Matthew 20: 1-16).
There is no life without missed opportunities which will never come again. What is the point of regretting that I chose this, when I might have chosen that, unless what I chose was sin? Then I must change.
But past sins cannot be undone. We must change ourselves so that from here on we will do right.
That is all that any of us can do: Choose the path we will follow from now on.
Fortunately, the path of righteousness is always only one step away. We have merely to take that step and begin to move forward on the right road, and our offering will be acceptable to the Lord.
If this is true of our choices between right and wrong, why should we waste even a moment regretting choices that have no moral component?
Perhaps you didn't get a college degree on the same schedule as others; perhaps you didn't marry when you might have, or have children at the age you now wish you had begun, or make less money than you might have in a different career.
Those years are gone, and you learned from them whatever you learned, and gave to others whatever you gave. No one else lived your life -- they lived their own. Comparisons are a waste of time.
Let us look at what is still possible for us in the future, find the best use of the time we have left and then eagerly pursue the good causes that are within our reach.
Don't look at others to compare, but rather to offer help, or ask for it.
Don't look backward with regret, but rather forward with hope.
I think of the greatest script of the 20th century, Robert Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons."
An ambitious, discontented young man, Richard Rich, comes to Thomas More to ask him to help advance his career. More, seeing that worldly success would destroy young Rich, offers him a teaching position.
More: "Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one."
Rich: "If I was, who would know it?"
More: "You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that."
All our comparisons with other people are really about ambition and fame. We judge ourselves as the world judges, instead of seeing ourselves through the eyes of Christ.
We must temper our ambition to fit within what is both possible and good. Only then will our remaining years of life, however long or short, be well and happily spent.
Only then will we be greeted by the Savior with the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
A Little History:
Our story begins in Pocatello, Idaho, circa 1972, when the lovely Debby Christensen agreed to a first, though fateful date with admirer, David Croshaw. Long story-short, he bade her follow him, and they went arm-in-arm to the Logan, Utah temple for establishment of an eternal family unit, Generation 1, on May 23 1973.
From their first blissful summer in Salt Lake City, educational pursuits took them to Provo/Orem, Utah, birthplace of Leslie and Rebecca, and to San Francisco/Oakland California, birthplace of Colin and Matt. Then, for establishment of livelihood, expansion of the tribe with Abby and Dana, and for raising/unifying of Generation 2, it was back to the roots in Pocatello for a rewarding sojourn.
In time, driven by a raging, but commonly shared sense of adventure and independence, one-by-one, Generation 2 escaped the homeland to distant regions of the country and the world, each ultimately developing their own tribal expansions by pairing with worthy mates and initiating Generation 3.
Now sensing fulfillment of their purpose in Pocatello, Generation 1 has also left those roots and transplanted to Cascade Idaho, from which base, they anticipate more abundant contact with The Posterity, Generations 2 and 3, in the future. That contact however, awaits fulfillment of a call to LDS missionary service in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, wherein they hope to help the state of the world by sharing the love of Jesus Christ.
So now, including Generation 0 (Grandma and Grandpa Christensen) home base includes Yuma, Arizona, Pocatello, Idaho, Cascade, Idaho, Vancouver, BC, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Spokane, Washington, Boise, Idaho, Los Angeles, California, back to Boise, Idaho, and on and on (Generation 3+) to infinity.
Our Mission Statement:
This is the blog of our eternal family unit. Initiated years ago, it served well as a journal, but even more so, as an archive of our personal interaction. It was a gathering place, a confabulation instrument, a unifying force for four generations of widely dispersed and progressively prolific posterity, and their valued associates. Though it served these purposes well for many years, it eventually took a back seat to new-kids-on-the-block, Facebook, and Instagram, and was sadly forgotten.
We now move to resurrect this blog with an added functional purpose of archiving the missionary experiences of Generation 1, of their movements and activities as they participate with The Gathering of Israel in the land northward. In so doing, we hope that via their own comments and posts, this blog will again serve to gather and unify the posterity and their friends.
As in the past, that the young and vibrant may know the old and tired, that enduring bonds may be fostered and maintained, that experience and encouragement may be openly shared, that posterity may embrace truth, and that hearts may be knit together, we must resist detachment despite our geographic divergence. We shall do so here.