Dad says to:
Be proud of who you are. You’re unique.
Be careful with your words. They can easily hurt.
Love with all your might. It’s all worth the risk.
Laugh a lot. It’s good for your emotional and physical being.
Cry when you need to. It’s God’s way of cleansing.
Dream. Never stop dreaming.
Never quit. Never. Ever.
Strive to achieve, but know when to ease up.
Stuff, although fun to collect, is still just stuff.
Review decisions on a scale of 1 to 100, then make your choice.
The advice I received from my father has served me for all my 57 years. It follows: “Do what is right, not what is most expedient!”
It covers everything from carrying out the trash to speaking or practicing kindness to strangers or your family. YeeHah!
Kendall Tomlinson, Texas
My twin brother Keith and I are partners in an artist supply store. I live nearby and usually walk to work. Occasionally, I need a car to run errands or make deliveries, so I hop in Keith’s car and go. But every time I use his car it’s almost out of gas.
How exasperating! I have to admit that I harbor a bit of resentment for someone who would so casually let things slip. Who would live so close to the edge, risking his safety and mine? Yet there it is—the little needle on the dash taunting me, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” I’ll put in 10 bucks, which bumps up the gauge enough to do the delivery and return.
Don’t get me wrong—Keith is a great guy. He’s otherwise a kind, smart, really decent human being in great shape for a guy even 20 years younger. He volunteers at church, fixes every kids’ broken bicycle, looks after his family and friends, and will say yes to every call for help.
But this little habit of his—this nonchalant, inconsiderate, childish, reckless habit—has threatened our lifetime bond. Except, being a timid kind of guy and not wanting to appear unthankful, I don’t vent to him directly. Let’s just say I may make a comment or two to anybody and everybody.
And I’m an open-minded kind of guy. I’ve walked in everybody’s shoes. I understand how the world turns. Live and let live is my motto. But really—running on empty?
Then one day, I needed help with a delivery and I asked Keith’s son, Nathan, to come with me. When I started the car, wouldn’t you know, it was out of gas, as usual! Aaaagggghhhh. I pointed at the gauge and couldn’t stop myself. I broke out into a rant about gasoline, our busy morning, death on the highways, irresponsible people, the fall of the Roman empire, and liberals and conservatives.
To his credit, Nathan just sat and let my voice flail around. I finally tired of listening to my echo.
Nathan said only, “That’s the temperature gauge.”
For the first time in my life, I was speechless.
And I was wrong. Not just wrong. I was stupid wrong. I was “what a jerk” wrong.
All those hateful things and feelings I had spawned over the years were so bad. The invincibility that had grown around me over the past 60 years started to crack. If I could misjudge my twin brother—my womb mate—I could misjudge anyone and anything. Could an aging small city mom and pop retailer be wrong about other topics? My Lord knows I’ve spent more than 60 years instructing everyone within shouting distance about politics, religion, Fords, and football games.
Maybe I should learn a new skill—listening.
I can only learn if I’m listening. But I want to listen to those who really know. I want to soak in the experience of the wisest voices in history. Less me—more Nathans.
So I’m lying in bed with my legs arguing over who will be the first to move. I am thinking about tomorrow. Way tomorrow—like when I’m lying on my deathbed. Like the song says, “Is that all there is?” Do the memories of family, work, and home fill the Book of Everything? Have I lived a closed-minded life?
I imagine living in an old attic with no windows, secure but dull. Then I open one small window called “Family,” and a tiny ray of light enters my attic life and I seek interaction with my family.
Then I open the second little window, “Work,” and I begin to really listen and care about our staff and customers.
With the third window, “Sports,” I see a different direction and more light enters my life. I go to a couple of football games with family and begin a weekly frisbee golf routine.
The fourth window is called “Music,” and my small attic is now less secure, but much less dull. I change talk radio stations to music stations.
The fifth window is large and much harder to open. It will completely illuminate my attic life. Maybe my neighbors will think less of me because I open my mind and my life to all directions. I want brilliant light to rule every move I make. I may worry about what others think, but I worry more about darkness. This window I call “Spiritual.” I attend church every week and listen to what’s said. I feel that I’m part of a bigger, caring family. This becomes my couple of hours a week where I escape from the crazy world and soak in peace, friendship, and acceptance.
Now I try not to judge others, because people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and I’m never alone.
The bottom line? I’ve spent 70 years wallowing in every dark temptation the world can showcase. My next century will be spent with all windows open. The last window helps me feel Love and Acceptance. I can see clearly now.
Life is brilliant and focused with many open windows. I learn about the greatest teacher, Jesus Christ, in the world’s best-selling book—the Holy Bible. And I listen to the Nathans sharing my church every week.
Open your windows. The world is greater than it looks!
When you’re struggling to make a decision, just ask yourself, “What is the right thing to do?” Suddenly your decision will be very clear.
What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?
We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.
Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 5 Penn Plaza, 8th Fl., New York, NY, 10001.