⌘ My wife handed me this old poem a few days ago and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to include it in this missive:
“I have to live with myself, and so,
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able, as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye.
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun,
and hate myself for the things I’ve done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf,
a lot of secrets about myself.
And fool myself, as I come and go,
into thinking that nobody else will know,
the kind of a man that I really am…
I don’t want to dress myself up as a sham.
I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men’s respect.
But here in the struggle for fame and pelf (money),
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know,
that I’m bluster and bluff, an empty show.
I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see.
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself, and so,
whatever happens, I want to be,
self-respecting and conscience free.
―Edgar A. Guest, 1881
I believe the reason this poem was so meaningful to me was that it is something we all strive to do with our lives, to be true to the authentic person we think we are, to be honorable and to always do what is right. I wish my parents had given this poem to me when I was a young boy. I wish they had sat down with me alone and explained what it meant and that I should always conduct myself in that manner. I am confident that I would’ve passed it on to my two children. I thought about passing it on to my grandchildren, but they’re adults now and would probably think I was being presumptuous. My great grandchildren live far away and don’t know me very well (my fault), so I’m not inclined to tell them how they should live their lives.
I hope that I have lived my life in the manner that Mr. Guest described (despite being unaware of his insightful poem) and that I accomplished it by being true to my Christian faith.
D. H. Lawrence said, “No creature is fully itself till it is, like the dandelion, opened in bloom of pure relationship to the sun, the entire living cosmos.”
⌘ A few days ago I was talking on the phone with an old friend, formerly my next-door neighbor, and I asked him how things were going in his life. He and his wife (Mary Beth) are close to my age (79), living with their oldest daughter and her husband, whom they adore. Mary Beth has described her as the perfect daughter from the time she was a small girl until this day. I doubt that my parents would ever consider using that adjective to describe my brother and I 😊. I recall my mother telling me that I was a, “good boy” and I considered that high praise, but I never came close to “perfect”.
Back to my conversation with John. They live in a three-story home, with John & MB on the 1st floor, daughter and husband on the 3rd floor, and the living area on the 2nd floor. They are having an elevator installed that will take them to any floor in the house. I commented to John that I have not known anyone that had an elevator in their home. I said that we have a friend up in New York who builds million-dollar homes and that he often takes us on tours of those homes, but we have never seen one with an elevator. I could feel his smile traveling across the many miles of phone line between us as he responded, “Well, how about that!” followed by his trademark chuckle. During our banter, I mentioned that I had visited my barber and gotten a haircut but was hesitant to do that because of COVID-19. John responded that he didn’t go to the barbershop very often since he had little for them to cut, but he said that, “God just made a few perfect heads, and for those that weren’t perfect, he gave them plenty of hair to cover his mistakes.” I’m sure our laughter filled both of our homes!
Now you see why my wife and I still miss having our old friends next door, but the bus of life moves on and we are still aboard, just waiting for life’s next adventure.
⌘ My 2012 iPad informed me the other day that I could no longer update its operating system past version 9.0 and that 10.0 was now available. Of course, I need to keep the latest updates on it for security and efficiency reasons. I decided to purchase a new one, but to wait until “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” to do so. After some research, I determined the price I was willing to pay and then waited until the day after Thanksgiving to get serious about looking. Sadly, the price I was hoping to pay was not the price they wanted for their devices. I opened up an app on my phone called “Offer Up” that allows you to buy and sell locally. Sure ‘nuff, I found a slightly used iPad that had more features than I expected (keyboard, pen, and cover) and at a price much lower than I expected. The only downside to this transaction was that the seller lived in Long Beach, California. I made an offer that was $50 less than he was asking, figuring that would pay the shipping and taxes, and then I sat back and waited for his response. Before long he responded by rejecting the offer, expressing his concern about getting his money. He wanted to sell his device locally where the exchange would be in person and was unsettled by the prospect of his device being on the East Coast while he was 3,000 miles away on the West Coast awaiting payment.
I calmly responded, “You will get your money. In 80 years, I have never failed to pay what I owed. There has to be trust on both sides—you that you’ll get paid, and me, that I’m getting a wonderful device.”
I don’t know what changed his mind, whether it was the 80-year thing or the never failing to pay thing, but he immediately responded that he would accept my offer. It always amazes me that life offers so many ways to make my existence wonderfully entertaining. Maybe it’s because it takes so little to do so. 😊
“In the deep of the night, lying on my back, I ask myself what life is and I see that I do not know; but I also see that it is a royal thing to be alive.” ―C.F. Ramuz
I thoroughly enjoyed this. Please share the poem because this grandchild and your great grandchildren love getting words of wisdom from you. We also love learning about you no matter how many miles apart❤ I can honestly say in all of my years of life you are the kindest, loving, and most selfless person I know. PROUD you are my GRANDPA❤❤
Debby Kiehner says:
He is all of that and more. I couldn’t ask for a better father.
Frank Shortt says:
I am reminded of George Burns who on his 99th birthday was doing a show. He walked out and calmly said,
“I am happy to be here tonight, at my age I’m glad to be anywhere!” As we grow older, wouldn’t it be nice to
have at least one grandson to sit down with us and pick our brains for all the information stored there, computer style, I bet they would be surprised, as well as, ourselves! Edgar Guest wrote quite a bit of poetry and his books are still available online. I have a collection of his works. He was the ‘poet of the people’ back in the early 1900’s.
Most folks would think of his poems as being quite archaic today! I’m from the old school and still like some of the older stuff that used to make some sense!