[Written to and for my grandchildren on their 18th birthday]
You could hardly wait; it seemed so important to be legal – an adult – old enough … Until January 31, 2010 you were minors (at least in Oklahoma) but today, you’ve reached your majority. Uh … what on earth does that mean?
It means that before today, the legal system assumed you didn’t have all the resources (financial, educational, maturational, etc.) to take responsibility for everything that happens in your life – well, of course, none of us has total control over everything in our life. There will always be things such as disease or earthquakes, and even the actions of other people. That’s why the legal system says you’ve reached your ‘majority’ – they believe you can be responsible for the majority of what comes your way – as I said, at least in Oklahoma. Before that, you were only able to be responsible for a minority (you were minors) of your actions or choices.
Your mom and I have been studying our heritage; just think – if some of our ancestors had remained in Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia or Wisconsin you’d have to wait until you graduated from high school, in Alabama you’d still have another year, or in Mississippi until you were 21 (to name a few of the places where we might be if our families hadn’t moved around).
Since we ended up in Oklahoma, the question for a day like today thus becomes, “How do I live so as to maximize the results of such responsibility?”
I have based my whole life on the premise that God is … I read a book (many times) by Leslie Weatherhead called The Christian Agnostic. He said some things that were helpful to me in developing my Christian philosophy: “When I read something in the Bible I don’t understand, I put it in a mental box marked ‘awaiting further light’” and “Don’t judge God by what you read in the Bible; rather judge the Bible by what you know about God.” Although I believe God has absolute standards, the thing I hold to be the truest and overriding concept about Him is the scripture that says, “God is love.”
As one who loves words, I’ve also discovered some people who put thoughts into words in memorable ways. Here are a few that can aid you in taking responsibility for your majority:
- Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz
- One that would have the fruit must climb the tree. – Thomas Fuller
- Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. –Johann von Goethe
- We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
- It’s always too early to quit. – Norman Vincent Peale
- Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt
- I am a big believer in the ‘mirror test’. All that matters is if you can look in the mirror and honestly tell the person you see there, that you’ve done your best. – John McKay
- Guard your integrity as a sacred thing; nothing is as important as the integrity of your own mind. – Brian Tracy
- Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. – Joann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching. – Mark Twain
- If taking vitamins doesn’t keep you healthy enough, try more laughter: The most wasted of all days is that on which one has not laughed. – Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort
- Good enough seldom is. Set excellence as your standard and refuse to compromise. – Brian Tracy
- Light tomorrow with today! – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
- The mass of men [and women] lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. – Henry David Thoreau
Remember back when you came to hear me speak in the serious speech competition? A large part of that speech had to do with Thoreau’s concept of each person’s song as well as the Grady Nutt book, Being Me, that talks about being fully yourself – who you were created to be. Here’s the ending of my speech and my encouragement to you to be everything you were created to be:
The concept of the River of Life is “the truth of life as a melody and not just any melody – your melody. Every one of us, at one time or another, like the river, has allowed activities or people around us to drown out our song – so much so that at times we may not even remember our own melody. In forgetting our melody, we may hear someone else’s song and think, ‘that’s a pretty song.’ For example, I watched David, a 17-year baritone, practicing a solo – the last note was just too low for him. He tried and tried and it just wasn’t there. Finally, he decided to have the choir director, a bass, sit on the front pew with a microphone and when David got to the very last note, George picked up the microphone and sang the low note. Ah, but that just won’t do – it has to be our song. I have my melody and you have yours. Make your own kind of music. As Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil said, ‘Even if nobody else sings along.’
“In this river of life, your mission is to uncover your song (not discover it, because it’s been there all along) and once you uncover it, sing it for all you’re worth. When the river of life joins with the sea of eternity – the sea will not be complete without my melody or without yours.”
I love you – and Happy Majority!