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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The therapeutic nature of words carefully considered

This evening, all of my pains suddenly stopped. I can feel them nearby preparing for a triumphal return, but right now my mind has cleared and the relief of being temporarily free from the pain is… liberating. I don’t know if the freedom is a result of the pain medication kicking in, an answer to my prayers and those of my family, or perhaps a mere physiological reaction as my body moves further along in the healing process.

Regardless of the reason, it has given me an opportunity to ponder the essence of who I am — and who I desire to become over the course of what I hope will be a long life. 

While going through this season of disability, I have used media and literature for distraction. But tonight, I have been able to use it like I used to — for edification, for learning, for application. 

Through a series of numerous miracles, I was able to receive my graduate degree. One of my sisters gave me a beautiful leather journal with a hand-stitched binding. I have finally decided what to use it for.

I love to memorize. My approach probably differs from that used by others. I don’t want to just be able to recite words from memory. I want to internalize the text, so I make a conscious effort to ponder about what I am memorizing. It’s not merely the words that are important to me, but what the words are trying to say. 

Some of my favorite memories are of early morning or late night walks by the river near my home, squeezing every ounce of knowledge and enlightenment out of words by Tennyson, Hugo, Lincoln. 

This type of careful pondering opens up a world of understanding that is simultaneously beautiful and elusive. The peace I feel of being able to think this way again is incredibly fulfilling, and I sincerely hope it is a sign that all will soon be well. 

I have decided to use the leather notebook my sister gave me to record some of my favorite quotes. During this period of freedom tonight, I have put together a short list of some of the quotes I have found myself going back to time and time again over the years. I look forward to reviewing some of the words I have chosen to live by — and discovering many more.

These are the ones that came to mind this evening:

Theodore Roosevelt: Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who know neither victory nor defeat.

Ezra Taft Benson: Thoughts lead to acts, acts lead to habits, habits lead to character—and our character will determine our eternal destiny.[1]

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight. But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.

Spencer W. Kimball: Man radiates what he is, and that radiation affects to a greater or lesser degree every person who comes within that radiation.

Victor Hugo: Sometimes, because Cosette was so beautiful, Marius closed his eyes before her. With eyes closed is the best way to look at the soul.

[1] I’m uncertain about the origins of this quote. I’ve seen it used in numerous sources, sometimes with slightly altered wording.This particular version comes from an address given at Brigham Young University, entitled, "Think on Christ."

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