Friday, January 24, 2014

Burning Light... by Ben Hazlett

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."  

When we hear things like this quote we often tend to think: "yeah, yeah... the glass is half full... look on the bright side... what ever... the person that wrote that was probably sitting in a nice cushy office chair somewhere with no idea what real people deal with." 

In reality, that quote comes from Viktor Frankl.  You might remember that he was a brilliant neurologist/psychologist. So cushy office right?  Maybe, but not until after he endured losing his wife, his parents, and everything he owned and loved to the concentration camps during WWII.  

He also wrote:   "What is to give light must endure burning."

In that light the problems I have in my life seem just fine. Interesting isn't it. Perspective does wonders. In the 80s and 90s watching syfi shows I thought, wouldn't it be great if everyone had a device that let them talk to each other no matter where they were and those tablet readers on Star Trek NG were so amazing. Now we have both.  Even just 200 years ago the richest people in the world would have given fortunes to fly thousands of feet in the air in speeding jets or to listen to a full orchestra perform Beethoven's 5th Symphony on a set of speakers smaller than a single violin. Yet we find ourselves complaining about these "modern conveniences" just as Louis CK points out:

Another story of missed opportunity due to unclear perceptions is told by Dieter F. Uchtdorf: (Full Discourse)

There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day.
He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man wanted to spend so very little money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food.
On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges.
I think about how often I complain about things rather than enjoying them.  Luckily, my kids and wife keep me more focused.  All it takes after a long day at work is my son standing by the window with a basketball in hand waiting to play his latest discovery "PIG" (Or his other one... SHEEP). After that sissy will say "dada, ride!" and we begin the horse rides for the evening.  I hope I will always try to take advantage of every moment to enjoy life.

verse of scripture I like says:

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. 
And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;

Finding happiness in the midst of trials and challenges then is not just about looking on the bright side, although a change of perspective can be invaluable.  When the light is on, as I submit it is for all of us, yes there are shadows and at times our vision is limited. But darkness cannot cast out light. If there is any light at all even in the midst of immense darkness, it can be enough to guide us and to "chase darkness from among [us]."  

So I plan to make sure that the next time my phone drops a call or my GPS tells me the restaurant is in the middle of a river, I will smile and thank God for light even if it burns a little!