A wonderful writer, speaker, philosopher and church leader Jeffrey Holland once wrote about the universal problem that hits all of us. He said doubt, discouragement, and despair blocks our growth, dampens our spirits, diminishes our hope and leaves us vulnerable to other troubles. His words from March of1980...
"I speak of doubt - especially self-doubt, of discouragement, and of despair. In doing so I don't wish to suggest that there aren't plenty of things in the world to be troubled by. In our lives, individually and collectively, there surely are serious threats to our happiness. I watch an early morning news broadcast while I shave and then read a daily newspaper. That is enough to ruin anyone's day and by then it is only 6:30 in the morning. Iran, Afghanistan, inflation, energy, jogging, mass murders, kidnapping, unemployment, floods. With all of this waiting for us we are tempted, as W.C Fields once said, to "smile first thing in the morning and get it over with."
We come back to choice...choice of how we view everything.
Here is a distinction F.Scott Fitzgerald once made, that "trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement-discouragement has a germ of its own" (The Crack-Up 1945)
As my friend Valerie continues to tell me, "Events are neutral" Hard to believe but so, so true. We get to choose how we react, we really are the captain of our ships.
From his talk "For times of Trouble" Jeffrey Holland wrote of a story I love. "Thomas Edison devoted ten years and all of his money to developing the nicks-alkaline storage battery at a time when he was almost penniless. Through that period of time, his record and film production was supporting the storage battery effort. Then one night the terrifying cry of fire echoed through the film plant. Spontaneous combustion had ignited some chemicals. Within moments all of the packing compounds, celluloid for records, film, and other flammable goods had gone up with a roar. Fire companies from eight towns arrived, but the fire and heat were so intense and the water pressure so low that the fire hoses had no effect. Edison was sixty-seven years old-no age to begin anew. His son Charles was frantic, wondering if he were safe, if his spirits were broken, and how would he handle a crisis such as this at his age. Charles saw his father running toward him. He spoke first.
He said, "Where is your mother? Go get her. Tell her to get her friends. They'll never see another fire like this as long as they live!"
At 5:30 the next morning, with the fire barely under control, he called his employees together and announced, "We're rebuilding." One man was told to lease all the machine shops in the area, another to obtain a wrecking crane from the Erie Railroad Company. Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "Oh by the way, anybody know where we can get some money?" (paraphrased from Charles Edison, "my most unforgettable character," Reader's Digest December 1961, pp. 175-77)
Virtually everything you now recognize as a Thomas Edison contribution to your life came after that disaster. A disaster I think I would have not recovered from.
Remember, "Trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement-discouragement has a germ of its own."
Why didn't Thomas Edison quit? What is it about some people that they never quit? I believe William Shakespeare said it best (doesn't he always?) Remember, dear Brutus, "The fault....is not in our stars, but in ourselves"
I am reading this today with a new outlook of hope....