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Edward Phillips

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Reflections on Life: Living for Those Who Love You
By Edward Phillips
Monday, October 08, 2012

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Living for those who love you.

Picture: Rustic Civility (1833) by William Collins depicting a deferential social system and visual harmony. The boy is tugging his forelock to a passing member of the gentry on horseback (visible as a shadow)

Reflections on Life: Living for Those Who Love You

 When I was boy in the third grade or thereabouts, our class was assigned the task of memorizing a poem. I wasn’t particularly interested in poetry, but I at least tried to memorize this one. After a day or so, our teacher asked the class if anyone wanted to volunteer to stand up and recite the assigned poem. No one raised a hand. She then scanned the class looking for someone of her choice to stand and recite. I must have been hiding and shrinking away more than the others, so she chose me.  
 
“Oh my God,” I thought. “I’ll never get through this without messing it up badly. And I will be the laughing stock of my class till the day I die.” 
 
I struggled to my feet, and cleared my throat. Not a word came out. I could not remember even the title.  Then she helped me out by saying “Ed is going to recite ‘I live for those who love me,’ and he will do a good job. Go ahead, please.” Well, at least now I knew the title. So I began:
 
I live for those who love me,
For those I know are true ,
For the Heav’n that smiles above me,
And awaits my spirit, too;
For all human ties that bind me,
For the task by God assigned me,
For the bright hopes left behind me,
And the good that I can do.
I live to hail that season,
By gifted minds foretold;
When men shall live by reason,
And not alone for gold;
When man to man united,
And every wrong thing righted,
The whole world shall be lighted,
As Eden was of old.
I live for those who love me,
For those who know me true ,
For the Heav’n that smiles above me,
And awaits my spirit, too;
For the wrong that needs resistance,
For the cause that lacks assistance,
For the future in the distance,
For the good that I can do
.
To my surprise, I got through it without a blunder. And nobody laughed. What’s more, I did not feel like a fool. In fact, the girl who sat behind me tugged on my shirt sleeve and said “I just love that poem. And you did a really good job with your recitation.” 
 
This poem by G. Linnaeus Banks stuck with me all these years. I don’t mean to suggest that I have lived according to its message,but that message has been a part of my life ever since.  It also helped me to see the magic of words as an art form. I also discovered that it is just as difficult to paint a portrait in words as it is to paint a portrait on a canvas. Perhaps it’s even more difficult because we each can see what the artist has painted, whereas we must conjure up in our minds and from our experiences what the writer has tried to convey. And although quality is a subjective term, we seem to know it when we see it or read it.
 
Quality is the key term.  To me it's the essence of a life worth living. Whether on the job, in our personal lives, in our hobbies, or in our avocations, quality makes all the difference. Shoddy work just doesn’t cut it. It will not suffice on a production line, it will not help you in a court of law, it will not move you in music, and it is not the mark of a winning team on the field of sports. Everyone pays when shoddy workmanship prevails, but not much can top these simple words from a friend or a stranger: “You did a really good job.”
 
 

 

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