December 7, 2007, Observation:
A while back Jo Anne and I drove over to her mother's home in Santa Ana. Her dad passed away several years ago and her mother joined him this summer. The home is up for sale and Jo Anne wanted to spruce up the plants and shrubs in front of the home. She actually enjoys working in the garden and I believe has inherited some of her dad's Idaho farmer genes.
She said we would only be there an hour which translates into three hours -- she is severely time challenged. It was a beautiful sunshiny day, but instead of getting out of the van and sitting in the sun watching Jo Anne work, I opted to remain in the van with the door and windows open. I must admit I enjoy watching Jo Anne work with a shovel and rake with no guilty conscience on my part, given my physical condition.
Our van's CD player holds six CDs so while Jo Anne worked I sat and listened to some of my favorite music. I love classical music like the kind Jimmy Durante sings. My daughter Jackie downloaded as many Jimmy Durante songs as she could from the Internet and made me a nice CD. My favorite number is "The Blackstrap Molasses and the Wheat Germ Bread Makes You Live Until You Wish You Were Dead!" Groucho Marx, Danny Kaye, and Jane Wyman sing along with Jimmy in an unforgettable classic rendition of a great piece, only rivaled by Beethoven. Another favorite CD I listened to that afternoon was The Best of Mozart. There are two numbers on this CD that I truly love; his clarinet Concerto and a French horn number. I like the clarinet concerto because as a sophomore at BYU I learned how to play it on my clarinet. Whenever I hear the French horn solo I almost break out laughing it is so fun to listen to. I love Mozart just because of that one thing he wrote for the French horn which certainly wasn't his greatest work. Then I listened to the Carpenters. When I hear Karen Carpenter's voice I just melt. It's like having someone scratch my back which I think feels good, although I can't remember that far back. And then comes my favorite all time CD by Robert Goulet. I change out all of the other CDs periodically but never Robert Goulet. When he starts out singing "If ever I would leave you it wouldn't be in summer" & etc. from Camelot, I get tingly all over. And then I have a CD of some of Chopin's best piano compositions, some of which I used to play when I could move my fingers better then I can at present.
So there I sat watching Jo Anne working, listening to that great music, and reflecting back on my life. Every once in a while Jo Anne would come by the van, smile, and shrug her shoulders trying to communicate in that way that she was sorry she was taking so long but had to keep working. She could have saved the smile and the shrug because I was having a most pleasant afternoon. I was just feeling an overwhelming feeling of peace that is difficult to describe but is very real.
As I was sitting there I began talking to myself; you know you are getting old and a little crazy when you start talking to yourself. The conversation was kind of like this: "Jack, I really enjoy your company. It's good to be with you. I like the things you are thinking about and the music you are listening to." I don't know what you will think of that conversation, but please don't judge me too harshly. I am sure many others don't enjoy my company nearly as much as I do. What a wonderful thing to be at peace with one's self, totally entertained, and very content, with some good music and better memories.
Listening to BYUTV the other day, I heard a talk given by Elder L. Tom Perry on November 1, 1992 to a gathering of CES teachers at Brigham Young University. He entitled his talk, "Making Memories." He had been in the Netherlands, and in a meeting with the missionaries, quoted the wife of the mission president as asking these young men and women if when their missions were over would they be saying to themselves as they looked back on their experience in retrospect, "I wish I had" or "I'm glad I did?" And then Elder Perry said to the CES teachers "I come to you with a question about eternal memories you are building in your lives. Are they followed by the comment “I wish I had,” or can you say, “I’m glad I did”?
I think we could all ask ourselves those two questions as we build the "eternal memories" that we store in our individual memory banks. Elder Perry taught that the answer to those two questions in our individual lives will be based on the principle of obedience. He went on to say "Each of us makes daily entries in our book of life. Occasionally we take it from the shelf and examine the entries we are making. What kind of memories will flood our minds as we examine the pages of our personal entries? How many pages will contain “I wish I had” entries? Will there be entries of procrastination and failure to take advantage of special opportunities? Will you find there entries of thoughtlessness in treatment of family, friends, or even strangers..."
Happily, we are able to open a clean white sheet in our book of life each day of our lives and hopefully fill it with many "I'm glad I did" entries which will cause the "I wish I had" entries fade into the dark recesses of our minds. The "I'm glad I did" entries will be based upon our obedience to eternal law. All the memories we create are eternal memories as King Benjamin so beautifully expressed in his great sermon: "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness [with a book of life filled with "I'm glad I did" entries]. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:41.) [Emphasis added]
I do believe the peace and happy memories we experience in mortality is but a precursor to what we will experience when we pass into our next estate.