Wise words from yesterday

I got my first job in broadcasting in 1950 at radio station WGR in Buffalo. There was only one TV station in Buffalo at the time. There was a freeze on new station applications, until the FCC could figure out how to make room for the overwhelming number of applications that had been submitted from would-be TV station owners. Television was in the birth process in the delivery room.

One of the gents I enjoyed working with in radio, who some of you oldsters may remember, was a disc jockey named John Lassells. (Not sure of that spelling, sorry John, it’s been a long time.) He called himself, “Old Bones.” His show which ran, from 11 p.m. to 1:05 a.m. every weekday night was called, “Man About Midnight.” He closed every night playing, “Rose of Picardy,” by Freddie Gardner, to which he always recited the same brief verse. (Author unknown to me.) With the music in the background, he would say “This is Old Bones saying goodnight, and reminding you that Every yesterday is but a dream, and every tomorrow is but a vision, but every today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of beauty.” Recalling those words, which I heard so often, brings me to the theme of this article.

Around the entire globe, every day, how many potentially beautiful lives are twisted into ugliness or defeat in an attempt to gain vengeance for a perceived injustice from yesterday, or even centuries past? The recent war in the Balkans comes to mind. How we clutter our lives with a lack of forgiveness, a vow to revenge, or to blackball someone. The pity is that the past is past, and no matter what we do we cannot change it. That’s what makes today so important. Another adage that comes to mind in that regard is, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” That makes every today sound like a fresh start doesn’t it. I’ve got news for you it is.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking justice, but nothing right about seeking revenge, or holding a grudge. The most revenge can do is to inspire someone to seek revenge upon us, who sees our revenge as an injustice upon him or his. A grudge only stirs up your bile, which eats away your innards. We don’t have to forgive any dead people for what they did, or what we thought they did. That day is forever gone. All we need to do is to dismiss it and not allow perceived evil to permeate today. Let us not allow what we cannot affect from the past to warp today into anger and bitterness, or tomorrow into hopeless, undeserved and unwelcome ugliness.

We must learn to bury the mistakes of yesterday, ours and theirs, in the coffins of the past, and move on with a “today well lived” that promises a tomorrow as a vision of beauty. Is that too idealistic? The only trouble with idealism is when we believe it is not achievable. If we think it is not achievable, it is only that we cannot imagine, how to dismiss, or deal with, the unrealistic warping of our perceptions. It is really not that difficult if you really want to.

Life is not, and never has been fair. I doubt that it is even supposed to be. It is surely a fool’s errand to seek perfection in this world. The best we can do is to attempt to grant justice to others, and thus bring one more small degree of fairness into a world of confusion and woe. We can make the world a more just place as we understand, and seek to be just, but it is a primitive, brutal, defeating, mentality that tries to wrest justice from the breast of one’s fellow man.

May God bless America.

Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com