Saturday, July 2, 2011

President Garfield's "Rules for Living"

I have been away from my computer for many days. If you read this blog, you know that it's because I flew out to the Midwest to spend some time with my new twin baby granddaughters and their mommy, from Monday, June 27 to the wee hours of Friday, July 1. I finished helping my daughter-in-law with the 3:00 a.m. feeding on Friday (which, with twins, took until about 4:30), hopped in the shower, and left at 5:00 a.m. to begin the trek to the airport for my return trip. I landed and was picked up by my husband, who drove me home so that I could quickly re-pack. And then we got on the road for a four-and-a-half hour car trip to Upstate New York for a reunion with his family. The past week has been a busy and exhausting time (I slept little while I was out visiting the babies, running on adrenaline--or as my husband put it, "baby fumes"), but it was also so wonderful that I can't even find the words to do the experience justice.

Normally, the tears I shed on the day of a plane trip have to do with my nervousness about flying through the sky in a big, scary tube of metal; on that day, however, the copious tears I shed as I awaited take-off were for a different reason: I already acutely and painfully missed those two adorable little bundles of sweet perfection. I cannot think of a more joyful way to spend four days than feeding, burping, changing, comforting, cuddling, and rocking those two precious little girls--and of course, smelling their little heads and kissing their soft little cheeks. I would have liked to post a new picture of them today (I took lots!), but my camera batteries just died, and I have not as yet transferred the photos from my camera to my computer. So instead, I decided to post the document below about President Garfield's "Rules for Living," since I had it stored already in "My Pictures." I can't for the life of me remember where it came from, but it spent a good deal of time posted on a door in our kitchen when our kids were growing up, because we thought it contained a lot of wisdom about living a good life.

That being said, I don't know if President Garfield was a complete teetotaler or what, but I think the rule that says "Drink no intoxicating drinks" might be a bit extreme. In both my husband's extended family and mine, old Garfield might find a bit of opposition to that one! I mean, it seems like the occasional spot of Irish whiskey can't hurt too much, or the cold beer that goes so well with grilling in the summertime or football games in the fall. And it would be a shame to never partake of the champagne during a toast at a wedding. Even Our Lord and His Blessed Mother weren't against a bit of alcohol for special occasions and feasts; after all, when they ran out of wine at the wedding feast at Cana, Mary asked Her Son to perform his first public miracle and turn water into wine. He didn't respond, "Mother, I can't do that, because no one should EVER drink intoxicating drinks"; He did what his mother asked Him to do so that the party could go on. So I think maybe President Garfield was being a tad overzealous on that one. As long as you keep your wits about you and don't overindulge, I'm certainly not against the drinking of adult beverages.

Otherwise, however, there is a lot of good advice here. I remember once when my oldest son was in junior high, the mother of one of his basketball teammates accused him of trying to harm her son during practice drills; she insisted that my son was trying to cause an injury that would allow him to move into her son's starting spot. My poor boy was so upset by the accusation, and he was worried that people would believe the lies that had been told about him. But as Garfield advises, "If anyone speaks evil of you, let your life be so that no one believes him." My son's character was such that this is exactly what happened: no one who knew him believed the other boy's mother, without my son having to utter a single word in self-defense.

Maybe a few of these "rules" can be taken with a grain of salt; and there's nothing in them about faith, which is a huge omission--for without God, none of us can live life as we should. But for the most part, this is a great guide to living a good life. (Click to enlarge for easier reading.)

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