Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Secret To Happiness...

by David G. Woolley

...Its hidden in the most unusual places.

If there were a pecking order to death, if the best of us got to stay a little longer, I never would have made it past my tenth birthday. Earth life is a reverse discrimination law suit waiting to happen. It seems those of us who don't get it right the first time are awarded a little extra time. Once again, life isn't fair.

So many good people have gotten up and left this week. Javier and Walfred Rabanales, two kind, gifted, humanitarians took their leave last week in the skies above eastern Guatemala. Over the weekend a Bishop in a neighboring Latter Day Saint congregation returned home from his medical practice, sat down on the front porch and complained to one of his seven children he didn't feel well. A few minutes later he was gone. My brother-in-laws father ran into complications with his asthma. The funeral was Tuesday.

I got a call from a former soccer player yesterday. He was distraught. His father, Craig, an engineering professor at Brigham Young University, lost Monday after a painful battle with cancer. The three of us used to talk soccer and engineering. I was better talking soccer. Free kicks. Referees. Manchester United. I knew just enough engineering to stay in the conversation. Righty tighty, lefty loosy. Its highly technical phraseology for nuts and bolts. Clockwise to tighten, counterclockwise to loosen.

When they came out with those funky reverse threaded screws I was no longer on the engineering cutting edge. Righty was no longer tighty. We had to find something else to talk about.

Craig loved fiction. We talked plots and characters into the wee hours. Thanks Craig. Some of your ingenuity, not to mention your passion for the Book of Mormon, is preserved in the pages of the Promised Land Series. You are missed. Never forgotten.

There's a pop culture poem titled the Man in the Mirror. The opening lines go something like this:

When you get all you want in your struggle for self, and the world makes you king for a day, then go to the mirror and look at yourself and see what that man has to say.

The poem's author remains anonymous. That's unfortunate. I like to know which oyster is responsible for the pearls of wisdom before I buy the necklace. The poem continues:

You've passed your most difficult test if the man in the glass is your friend.

I don't doubt that making peace with yourself has merit. If you can't live with yourself, who can? But when did looking in the mirror become the secret to happiness? The Jews who heard Christ deliver the Sermon on the Mount didn't run to the reflective waters of the Galilee for a therapy session. No encounter groups. No psycho analysis.

If you're looking for some peace of mind, if you're searching for the meaning of life, if, by your toil, you're building a memorial for future generations, the instructions are pretty clear. Lose yourself in service to others and you'll find the secret.

To those who passed from this life during the week, thanks for reminding us mortals. Less looking in the mirror. More looking out for each other.

Happiness, it turns out, has always been a vicarious undertaking.

Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website.


Sandra said...

Ahh, David. I'm sorry for the loss of your friends so close to your last loss. Sometimes it is hard to breath when so much loss comes so fast. And I am not so sure that it is any easier to understand death when you have seen it as a child, just maybe learning how to grieve is started earlier.
I also think you are right, it is not in the selfish, self finding that we find peace and meaning, but in the loving and giving to others. I imagine that is what makes losing these friends so sad, they loved and gave and you were one of the lucky ones to either recieve that service or to be by their side as they gave.

(oh, pearls come from oysters-not clams ;)

David G. Woolley said...


You are one quick pistol. Once again you read the "unedited" first draft. I'm going to stop posting a trial ballon test run. You always manage to read it.

Writing, as you are very likely aware, is like a good stew. It has to simmer for a few hours. This post has simmered. Its also been rewritten into its publishable form.

Read it again and tell me it doesn't make a lot more sense.

The clam is gone. I knew I was choosing the wrong mollusk. I don't get it. They both filter plankton over their gills and with the exception of a little water tube in the top shell of the oyster you can't tell the difference. Who knew you had to be a marine biologist to get that one right?

From the oyster you get a pearl. From the clam you get all-you-can-eat Sea Food at Chuck-a-Rama. What was I thinking?


Sandra said...

I'm sorry. Next time I'll lift the lid, breath in the heady aroma, then wait for you to add the garnishes. Then I will come back and taste of the finished product after it has simmered a bit.

I thought it made sense before the rewrite, but you are right, better after.

And the clam thing? Easy for me even though I am not a marine biologist- just a female who loves pearls.

Jennie said...

David, I'm sorry for the losses you have suffered recently. I'm not sure why this kind of loss seems to come in batches, but I've gone through a couple of series like this and painful as it is, I think I've learned more about life, resolved to be more giving, and developed a greater understanding of our Savior's love because of these experiences. It's a lesson I hope I won't be required to repeat.
On another note, I really am enjoying Day of Remembrance. You may have never intended it as such, but I find it enlightening as I study various aspects of my new calling to serve in the temple. I want to just sit down and finish reading it in one fell swoop, but this is a hectic time for me and I'm only able to squeeze in brief periods of reading time.

David G. Woolley said...

Hi Jennie:

Thanks for the comments. I'm so happy you are enjoying, so far, Day of Remembrance.

If you have a chance, I have to give a presentation on Day of Remembrance to Bookstore managers from across the country this coming Thursday. I'd like to be able to present some ideas from readers based on the question:

If you were introducing this book to someone who was considering reading it, what would you tell them?

Would it be asking too much to have you answer that question for me so I can use some of your insights in my presentation? If you say yes, go to the Promised Land Webiste, then click over to the Book Club and leave your comments there in the Day of Remembrance post.

Thanks a bunch.

David G. Woolley

Sandra said...

Coach Sandra here David,
Change the word have in this sentence to get to, am priviliged to, or something more positive. You love this work, I know I have seen you speak to buyers about it. Make the mental shift to enjoying speaking about your work.

"I have to give a presentation on Day of Remembrance to Bookstore managers"