You Learn . . .







After awhile you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn that love doesn’t mean possession
and company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises and you begin to accept
your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of an adult not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build your roads today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have ways of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine
burns if you get too much so you plant your
own garden and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
that you really are strong
and you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn…

– Veronica A. Shoffstall

Consider this: What have you learned?

Focus . . .

What I focus on in life is what I get. And if I concentrate on how bad I am or how wrong I am or how inadequate I am, if I concentrate on what I can’t do and how there’s not enough time in which to do it, isn’t that what I get every time? And when I think about how powerful I am, and when I think about what I have left to contribute, and when I think about the difference I can make on this planet, then that’s what I get. You see, I recognize that it’s not what happens to you; it’s what you do about it. 

– W. O. Mitchell, Canadian Author and Teacher


Consider this: What are you focusing on today?

A powerful question . . .


A Powerful Question

A man driving down a country road spotted a farmer standing in the middle of a huge field of grass. Sensing something was wrong, he pulled the car over to the side of the road. As he watched, the farmer just stood there doing nothing and looking at nothing.

Curiosity got the better of the motorist and he climbed from his car and approached the idle man. “Ah, excuse me mister, but is something wrong?”

“No, no,” replied the farmer, “I’m fine. I’m just trying to win a Nobel Prize.”

“You are?” asked the puzzled motorist. “But how?”

“Well, I heard they give the Nobel Prize . . . to people who are out standing in their field.”

(If you were expecting my humor to get better, I’m sorry to disappoint.)

It’s true that few of us will ever win a Nobel Prize. But that’s okay, because being the world’s best is not the point. Let me ask a different kind of question.

According to John Gardner, founding chairman of Common Cause, one cheerful old man asks a fascinating question of just about everybody he meets for the first time. Once they exchange names and they get to the part where one is sure to ask the other where they work or what they do for a living, he turns the conversation in a different direction. He asks his new acquaintance an unusual question. He asks a big question – an important one. He asks, “What have you done that you believe in and you are proud of?”

The question is direct and a little unsettling. It is not as easy to answer as, “What do you do for a living?” It requires some thought. When asked why he likes to pose that question, the old man responds that he doesn’t care how they answer. He just wants to put the thought into their minds. He thinks everyone should live their lives in such a way that they can have a good answer.

“What have you done that you believe in and are proud of?”

As I search for an answer, my mind goes first to family. We’ve raised healthy and productive children who want to make this world a better place. Not that I’ve been a model parent – far from it. But I’m proud of them. I also believe in the life my spouse and I have tried to put together with one another. We both chose to work hard on our relationship from the beginning.

What else have I done that I believe in and I’m proud of? Several things, I hope. But one especially is the creation of Life Support System. For me it’s always been about reaching out, and I’m gratified when others in our Life Support System family write and tell me how it has made a difference. In a small way I think we’re helping to bring the world together.

How would you answer that intriguing question? It may not be a big thing. Perhaps it’s something that nobody but you cares about. But it cost you somehow … you’re invested in it. You probably will never be awarded a Nobel Prize for your accomplishment, but it was important enough to do.

I think this can be one of the most powerful questions we can ever ask ourselves. It causes us to look deep inside and, like the old man says, prompts us to live our lives in such a way that we can have a good answer.

Now it’s your turn. You may want to close your eyes and give it some thought. “What have you done that you believe in and are proud of?”

— Steve Goodier, Life Support System

Consider this: How would you answer the question?

A thought for the new year . . .


“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.”

William Henry Channing, 1810-1884
American Chaplain

Consider this: What is your symphony?