A good friend sent me this inspirational piece. I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s worth the read. Enjoy! ~ rg
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.”
I wanted to go but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. “I will come next Tuesday”, I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house, I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.
“Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog. There is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!”
My daughter smiled calmly and said, “We drive in this all the time, Mother.”
“Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears, and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her.
“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car.”
“How far will we have to drive?”
“Oh, just a few blocks,” Carolyn said. “But I’ll drive. I’m used to this.”
After several minutes, I had to ask, “Where are we going? This isn’t the way to the garage!”
“We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.”
“Carolyn,” I said sternly, “please turn around.”
“It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience”
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign with an arrow that read, “Daffodil Garden”. We got out of the car, each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and it’s surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.
“Who did this?” I asked Carolyn.
“Just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.”
Carolyn pointed to a well kept A-frame house, small and modest, sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”
For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.
The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time – often just one baby-step at time – and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
“It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said.
She was right. It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, “How can I put this to use today?”
NOTE from Robert: This article is reprinted with permission of the author, Bill Sarine. When Bill told me this story, it touched my heart. As a person fighting off cancer, I’d given much thought to my remaining “Time”….
It was 1975 in Chicago and I was a salesman for a large computer company. I had a number of large accounts including Illinois Bell Telephone and American Can Printing Company. One day I was waiting in the American Can office pending my appointment and was watching a young man through the display window, running tapes on the computer system. It was a print shop and he was loading machines and then going to the command console and rapidly keying in command codes on a key panel in computer code. This fascinated me that anyone that could not only remember all the codes but key them in so rapidly.
The manager I was meeting with came out and I commented to him how amazed I was at the skill of the young man. He nodded and with a quiet voice told me he had some bad news for the young man. The company was closing down the print operation and moving it to another site. He was going to have to let him go. What made it more difficult was that this young man had no education and was the support for his entire family. His father had died and he had his mother and three siblings to support. He said he always came in early worked late and never complained.
Later that day I was meeting with the Comptroller of Illinois Bell and on a whim asked if they had any affirmative action difficulties. He immediately got serious and said one of his greatest challenges was finding qualified people with technical skills. I told him about Petro. He indicated he would like to speak to him and asked me to set up an interview. We set a time for the following day.
I called his boss and arranged to meet Petro at his office early so I could give him some briefing.
The next day when I met Petro I immediately decided that Jeans and worn sneakers were not the appropriate attire for an interview. We went to Marshall Field’s Bargain basement, fit him out with a suit, shirt, tie new shoes etc. he felt very uncomfortable so I decided to give him a pep talk.
When I was starting in business one of my first mentors pulled me aside and gave me a watch. It was a simple Timex but the words he said always stayed with me.
“This clock represents your time. You own it… and are the only one that can control it. Time is given to each of us and what we do with it sets us apart from everyone else. You can waste it, cherish it and grow or not– it is your clock and the time is yours to control. Use it wisely or foolishly but no matter what you cannot go back just forward.”
I never will forget that look as he stared at the watch. I dropped him at the reception desk and with shaking legs he walked into the interview. Over an hour later he emerged with a glow in his eyes. Smiling he said he got the job.
I lost touch with Petro over the years but heard he was doing well. I moved on to North Carolina and 30 years passed. Now I was running a company in the east and distributing electronics nationally. Attending a trade show in San Diego I had a very hectic schedule of booth operations, press conferences and committee meetings. Tired and exhausted on the third day I was taking a break with my 3rd cup of coffee when a well dressed gentleman approached me and said; “are you Mr. Sarine formerly from Chicago?” I nodded yes and then he dropped the bomb. “You may not remember me but I used to be called Petro. I am now Peter and I hoped I would have the chance to meet you again.” I guess I showed my shock. He explained that he had been given an opportunity to finish his education and in fact had a master’s degree from Northwestern and was now on the staff of ATT Headquarters in NJ. He was married with 2 children and a fine life. We planned to have dinner that night.
At dinner he stated he had a gift for me and handed me a box. In it was a new watch. Included was a note that will always be sacred to me.
“This is your new clock to replace the one you gave me. I am sorry I cannot return the original as I have already passed it on to another with your words. May it serve others as it did me.
Thanks for your faith in me.
Since then I have made it a practice to always have a spare watch available to pass on when needed. The price of the watch is not relevant. It is the use of time that is.
This article is Copyright © by Bill Sarine, Writers Guild of America Registration number 1706756