Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, they serve some sort of purpose, to teach you a lesson or help figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be - your roommate, neighbor, professor, long lost friend, lover or even a complete stranger who, when you lock eyes with them, you know that very moment that they will affect your life in some profound way.
And sometimes things happen to you and at the time they may seem horrible, painful and unfair, but in reflection you realize that without overcoming those obstacles, you would have never realized your potential, strength, will power or heart. Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of good or bad luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity - all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, if they be events, illnesses or relationships, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight, flat road to nowhere. Safe and comfortable but dull and utterly pointless.
The people you meet who affect your life and the successes and downfalls you experience - they are the ones who create who you are. Even the bad experiences can be learned from. Those lessons are the hardest and probably the most important ones.
If someone hurts you, betrays you or breaks your heart, forgive them for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart to. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because they are teaching you to love and opening your heart and eyes to things you would have never seen or felt without them.
Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from it everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again.
Talk to people you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, break free and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you either. You can make of your life anything you wish. Create your own life and then go out and live it.
"People are like tea bags - you have to put them in hot water before you know how strong they are."
Night after night, she came to tuck me in, even long after my childhood years. Following her longstanding custom, she'd lean down and push my long hair out of the way, then kiss my forehead.
I don't remember when it first started annoying me —— her hands pushing my hair that way. But it did annoy me, for they felt work-worn and rough against my young skin. Finally, one night, I lashed out at her: "Don't do that anymore —— your hands are too rough!" She didn't say anything in reply. But never again did my mother close out my day with that familiar expression of her love. Lying awake long afterward, my words haunted me. But pride stifled my conscience, and I didn't tell her I was sorry.
Time after time, with the passing years, my thoughts returned to that night. By then I missed my mother's hands, missed her goodnight kiss upon my forehead. Sometimes the incident seemed very close, sometimes far away. But always it lurked, hauntingly, in the back of my mind.
Well, the years have passed, and I'm not a little girl anymore. Mom is in her mid-seventies, and those hands I once thought to be so rough are still doing things for me and my family. She's been our doctor, reaching into a medicine cabinet for the remedy to calm a young girl's stomach or soothe a boy's scraped knee. She cooks the best fried chicken in the world…… gets stains out of blue jeans like I never could……and still insists on dishing out ice cream at any hour of the day or night.
Through the years, my mother's hands have put in countless hours of toil, and most of hers were before automatic washers!
Now, my own children are grown and gone. Mom no longer has Dad, and on special occasions, I find myself drawn next door to spend the night with her. So it was that late on Thanksgiving Eve, as I drifted into sleep in the bedroom of my youth, a familiar hand hesitantly stole across my face to brush the hair from my forehead. Then a kiss, ever so gently, touched my brow.
In my memory, for the thousandth time, I recalled the night my surly young voice complained: "Don't do that anymore —— your hands are too rough!" Catching Mom's hand in hand, I blurted out how sorry I was for that night. I thought she'd remember, as I did. But Mom didn't know what I was talking about. She had forgotten —— and forgiven —— long ago.
That night, I fell asleep with a new appreciation for my gentle mother and her caring hands. And the guilt I had carried around for so long was nowhere to be found.
While taking my boat down the inland waterway to Florida a few weeks ago, I decided to tie up at Georgetown, South Carolina, for the night and visit with an old friend. As we approached the Esso dock, I saw him through my binoculars standing there awaiting us. Tall and straight as an arrow he stood, facing a cold, penetrating wind—truly a picture of a sturdy man, even though his next birthday will make him eighty-two. Yes, the man was our elder statesman, Bernard Baruch.
He loaded us into his station wagon and we were off to his famous Hobcaw Barony for dinner. We sat and talked in the great living room where many notables and statesmen, including Roosevelt and Churchill, have sat and taken their cues. In his eighty-second year, still a human dynamo, Mr. Baruch talks not of the past but of present problems and the future, deploring our ignorance of history, economics, and psychology. His only reference to the past was to tell me, with a wonderful sparkle in his eye, that he was only able to get eight quail out of the ten shots the day before. What is the secret of this great man’s value to the world at eighty-one? The answer is his insatiable desire to keep being productive.
Two of the hardest things to accomplish in this world are to acquire wealth by honest effort and, having gained it, to learn how to use it properly. Recently I walked into the locker room of a rather well-known golf club after finishing a round. It was in the late afternoon and most of the members had left for their homes. But a half-dozen or so men past middle age were still seated at tables talking aimlessly and drinking more than was good for them. These same men can be found there day after day and, strangely enough, each one of these men had been a man of affairs and wealth, successful in business and respected in the community. If material
prosperity were the chief requisite for happiness, then each one should have been happy. Yet, it seemed to me, something very important was missing, else there would not have been the constant effort to escape the realities of life through Scotch and soda. They knew, each one of them, that their productivity had ceased. When a fruit tree ceases to bear its fruit, it is dying. And it is even so with man.
What is the answer to a long and happy existence in this world of ours? I think I found it long ago in a passage from the book, Genesis, which caught my eyes while I was thumbing through my Bible. The words were few, but they became indelibly impressed on my mind: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.”
To me, that has been a challenge from my earliest recollections. In fact, the battle of life, of existence, is a challenge to everyone. The immortal words of St. Paul, too, have been and always will be a great inspiration to me. At the end of the road I want to be able to feel that I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.