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2nd Cup of Coffee, 3/16/17: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL ‘EM?

Posted by on March 16, 2017

In one sentence, how would you describe your life’s philosophy?

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When someone asks your children the one thing above all else that you taught them by word and example, what would they say?

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Does it make you nervous to listen to your kids telling someone else about you when they don’t know you’re listening?  Sometimes you hear things you

  • never knew.
  • never wanted to know.
  • always thought they ignored.
  • wouldn’t have dreamed they’d remember.

Of course, it’s important to remember that they’re seeing you from the aggregate of their own life experiences and their age – not yours.  The colors and scenes on their paintings of you will each be different, and will reflect the things that have stuck in their minds about you.  It can be instructive to see yourself through your children’s eyes.

To our original question.  In one short sentence, I believe I can wrap up my lifelong philosophy thus:

Leave it better than you found it.

I’d like to tell you I’ve done that every day, never let my head hit the pillow without assuring everything I touched and everyone I encountered was better.

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I’d really like to tell you that.  I’ve had my share of spectacular trainwrecks, times in life when it seemed no matter how well-intentioned my efforts, the general heading for the whole thing was 180.  Yep.  South.

You know the feeling.  Right?  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try, your words and your work are questioned, taken wrong, or altogether disregarded.  Things happen to where you can’t keep your word.  You give it your best but it’s not enough.  Life rudely intrudes.  So, no–specific events or personal interactions sometimes aren’t – can’t be – better.

Looking back over the journey thus far is another story.

Everywhere we lived while I was growing up, my mother and dad planted roses.  We lived several different places, some of them only for a school year.  A few of them were pretty humble, too.  That was before The Boones moved in.  Trees and shrubs got trimmed and shaped, the yard was tended, flowers were planted, and there were always several rosebushes, blushing in their new Spring colors, spreading their beauty and perfume.

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The day I left home, I remember Daddy and Mother waving goodbye as they stood among yet more of the stunning roses they always planted wherever they lived.

The lesson was clear without either of them saying a word.

Leave it better than you found it.

Our three saw us spend precious dollars on paint, wallpaper and trim, petunias – and rosebushes.  The floors may have been rotting – okay, they were – yet the yards were kept as neat, tidy and colorful as we could make them.

We planted roses everywhere we ever lived.  Looking out the car’s back window:  “But, Dad, who’ll take care of them?”  Not our responsibility now.  I always prayed whoever made that a home after we did would tend them.

“It’s just a rosebush.”  No.  It’s not just anything.  It’s an idea, a way of living.  It just so happens in this case that planting roses represents it.

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Not a big deal, you say?  Perhaps not.  Yet the lesson Daddy and Mother taught me seems to have caught on.  Our children have begun the process of living in different places.  As they progress from place to place according to education, careers and jobs, the strangest thing keeps happening.

Roses keep appearing everywhere they’ve been.

© D. Dean Boone, March 2017









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