background image
Don¡¯t Hope... Decide
While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in
Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-chang-
ing experiences that you hear other people talk
about... the kind that sneaks up on you unex-
pectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away
from me.
Straining to locate my friend among the passen-
gers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a
man coming toward me carrying two light bags.
He stopped right next to me to greet his family.
First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six
years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave
each other a long, loving hug. As they separated
enough to look in each other¡¯s face, I heard the
father say, ¡°It¡¯s so good to see you, son. I missed
you so much!¡±
His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes
and replied softly, ¡°Me, too, Dad!¡±
Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his
oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping
his son¡¯s face in his hands said, ¡°You¡¯re already
quite the young man. I love you very much,
Zach!¡±
They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.
While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps
one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly
in her mother¡¯s arms, never once taking her little
eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning
father.
The man said, ¡°Hi, baby girl!¡± as he gently took
the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her
face all over and then held her close to his chest
while rocking her from side to side.
The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her
head on his shoulder, motionless in pure content-
ment.
After several moments, he handed his daughter
to his oldest son and declared, ¡°I¡¯ve saved the
best for last!¡± and proceeded to give his wife the
longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember
seeing.
He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and
then silently mouthed, ¡°I love you so much!¡±
They stared at each other¡¯s eyes, beaming big
smiles at one another, while holding both
hands.
For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds,
but I knew by the age of their kids that they
couldn¡¯t possibly be.
I puzzled about it for a moment then realized
how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful dis-
play of unconditional love not more than an arm¡¯s
length away from me.
I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invad-
ing something sacred, but was amazed to hear
my own voice nervously ask, ¡°Wow! How long
have you two been married?¡±
¡°Been together fourteen years total, married
twelve of those.¡± he replied, without breaking
his gaze from his lovely wife¡¯s face.
¡°Well then, how long have you been away?¡± I
asked.
The man finally turned and looked at me, still
beaming his joyous smile. ¡°Two whole days!¡±
Two days? I was stunned.
By the intensity of the greeting, I had as-
sumed he¡¯d been gone for at least several
weeks, if not months. I know my expression
betrayed me.
I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my
intrusion with some semblance of grace (and
to get back to searching for my friend), ¡°I
hope my marriage is still that passionate after
twelve years.¡±
The man suddenly stopped smiling.
He looked me straight in the eye, and with
forcefulness that burned right into my soul,
he told me something that left me a different
person.
He told me, ¡°Don¡¯t hope, friend¡­ decide!¡±
Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again
and headed home with his loved ones.
The Reading Room 2019 August/September
Pg 5 - The Sunshine Express
Treasures From The Inbox
If you get email, you
get stuff. Sometimes
it is spam, sometimes
it is a true gem.
Here is one of those
gems worth sharing:
The Whistle
by Benjamin Franklin
TO MADAME BRILLON,
I received my dear friend¡¯s two letters, one for
Wednesday and one for Saturday.
This is again Wednesday. I do not deserve one
for to-day, because I have not answered the
former.
But, indolent as I am, and averse to writing, the
fear of having no more of your pleasing epistles,
if I do not contribute to the correspondence,
obliges me to take up my pen; and as Mr. B. has
kindly sent me word that he sets out tomorrow
to see you, instead of spending this Wednesday
evening, as I have done its namesakes, in your
delightful company, I sit down to spend it in
thinking of you, in writing to you, and in reading
over and over again your letters.
I am charmed with your description of Para-
dise, and with your plan of living there; and I
approve much of your conclusion, that, in the
meantime, we should draw all the good we can
from this world. In my opinion we might all
draw more good from it than we do, and suffer
less evil, if we would take care not to give too
much for whistles.
For to me it seems that most of the unhappy
people we meet with are become so by neglect
of that caution. You ask what I mean?
You love stories, and will excuse my telling one
of myself.
When I was a child of seven years old, my
friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with cop-
pers.
I went directly to a shop where they sold toys
for children; and being charmed with the sound
of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands
of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all
my money for one.
Don¡¯t Pay Too Much
I then came home, and went whistling all over
the house, much pleased with my whistle, but
disturbing all the family.
My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, under-
standing the bargain I had made, told me I
had given four times as much for it as it was
worth; put me in mind what good things I
might have bought with the rest of the money;
and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I
cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me
more chagrin than the whistle gave me plea-
sure.
This, however, was afterwards of use to me,
the impression continuing on my mind; so that
often, when I was tempted to buy some unnec-
essary thing, I said to myself, Don¡¯t give too
much for the whistle; and I saved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and ob-
served the actions of men, I thought I met
with many, very many, who gave too much for
the whistle.
When I saw one too ambitious of court favor,
sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his
repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his
friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This
man gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, con-
stantly employing himself in political bustles,
neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by
that neglect, He pays, indeed, said I, too much
for his whistle.
If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of
comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing
good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-
citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship,
for the sake of accumulating wealth, poor man,
said I, you pay too much for your whistle.
When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrific-
ing every laudable improvement of the mind,
or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations,
and ruining his health in their pursuit, Mistaken
man, said I, you are providing pain for your-
self, instead of pleasure; you give too much for
your whistle.
If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes,
fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages,
all above his fortune, for which he contracts
debts, and ends his career in a prison, Alas!
say I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his
whistle.
When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl
married to an ill-natured brute of a husband,
What a pity, say I, that she should pay so
much for a whistle!
In short, I conceive that great part of the mis-
eries of mankind are brought upon them by the
false estimates they have made of the value of
things, and by their giving too much for their
whistles.
Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy
people, when I consider that, with all this wis-
dom of which I am boasting, there are certain
things in the world so tempting, for example,
the apples of King John, which happily are not
to be bought; for if they were put to sale by
auction, I might very easily be led to ruin my-
self in the purchase, and find that I had once
more given too much for the whistle.
Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever
yours very sincerely and with unalterable
affection.