Salutations, Gentle Reader, and welcome to my "story."
Were I to begin with the usual format of "she was born on" and so forth, I daresay folk would rapidly give way to yawns and turn to other pursuits. So I shan't bore you overly much with those mundane details. The short form is that I have seldom been blessed with vibrant health, so I often took refuge from the pain by way of my imagination.
Yes, that's right -- I'm one of those scary ones who sees how things could be, and asks "why not?" I became fascinated with the concept of elves before reaching high school, and discovering Tolkien's books largely sealed the concept into my personal "fictional world" view. It dovetailed nicely with my chosen Faith, and a strong belief in angels.
How often have you considered... If you *knew* you were immortal, and that you would remember all you ever saw or said or did, how would you live? Would you live any differently from the way you live now?
I expect that, somewhat like Tolkien's elves, I would be saddened by the way the world declines. So many people - of all races - choose to tear down, instead of build up. They choose to destroy, instead of create; to criticize, instead of learn or instruct; to hate and fear, instead of learning to understand; to pursue ugliness instead of beauty; to pursue cruelty instead of kindness, and to be rude instead of courteous. I could neither understand nor condone that approach to life, so I took a different path.
Having nearly died as a child taught me to think about how I may be remembered whenever I do die. I want to leave something beautiful behind, something that may help inspire others toward a desire to discover their better selves, instead of wallowing in all the depths of spiritual ugliness that seem so abundant in the world around. I do not know if I have achieved this goal yet - but I shall continue pursuing it, in the hopes of showing others that it is possible to overcome the darkness within and become a beacon showing forth a better way of living.
None of us needs to be a lemming, following "the crowd" into a pit of self-destructive activities. Any of us can be the one who says, "Hey, let's try something else..." and points toward a mountain to climb instead. Whether the mountain's peak is ever successfully reached or not, it remains a better goal than the alternative!
No matter what I do or say, it will always have some effect on another human being. An effect as real as if it were a brick or a stone. So I try to step back and ponder, before I speak or type: would this word-brick be building a wall, or a bridge, or merely wreaking havoc? Wherever possible, I try to build bridges. I find that more beneficial to both myself and others than the alternatives. Especially if someone else may remember it longer than I do!
My dream is that one day humanity will wake up and realize that we are something special on this world. We have the power to think, and choose for ourselves. We need not give way to every destructive impulse that passes through us; we can choose to be better than that, to cooperate instead of pursuing conflict, and, together, we can become greater than the sum of our parts. We can choose to focus on what we have in common, instead of despising our differences. We can see first "another human being" and only secondly be aware of how that human is different from ourselves.
I think that if we were fully honest with ourselves and others, we'd find we have more in common - both in strengths and in weaknesses - than we have unlike. Sadly, it seems that most of us are afraid to reach out to another and try to understand him or her, if s/he doesn't seem to be exactly like ourselves. We must miss much, by clinging to such a narrow view. I do not expect so dramatic a change as true brotherhood to come into practice during my own lifetime; I've seen too much of "man's inhumanity to man" to think such a change could happen that quickly. Yet I continue to dream, and hope that this dream may infect other people... then, perhaps, one day it could become a reality.
Finally, I shall share some words attributed to William Hersey Davis that continue to inspire me:
Reputation and Character
The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation;
The truth you believe determines your character.
Reputation is what you are supposed to be;
Character is what you are.
Reputation is the photograph;
Character is the face.
Reputation comes over one from without;
Character grows up from within.
Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community;
Character is what you have when you go away.
Your reputation is learned in an hour;
Your character does not come to light for a year.
Reputation is made in a moment;
Character is built in a lifetime.
Reputation grows like the mushroom;
Character grows like the oak.
A single newspaper report gives you your reputation;
A life of toil gives you your character.
Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor:
Character makes you happy or makes you miserable.
Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone;
Character is what Angels say about you before the throne of God.
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