As we sat in front of a crackling fire, relaxing in our comfortable, well-appointed living room, boasting my new Grand Piano and picture windows overlooking a valley studded with majestic pines against a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada, our thoughts went back to the early years of our marriage.

Materially, we had virtually nothing back then.  We were lucky to have a pound of hamburger on a Saturday night. Our kitchen consisted of a card table someone had given us and two metal folding chairs we had appropriated from the fellowship hall in the church where my Dad was a minister. The oven door on the stove wouldn’t close, an “icebox” graced one wall instead of a refrigerator and my clothes washer consisted of an old-fashioned washboard.  Yes, it is true, this is how we started out 58 years ago in a little town in New England.

Set your goals

But, you know what? It didn’t matter. We were lucky enough to learn early on that “love was not looking into each other’s eyes, but rather looking forward together toward a common goal’.  We envisioned our future together, shared what we wanted to become, where we wanted to eventually live, how many kids we wanted.

We were fortunate enough to figure out even at this early age that we needed something to “look forward to”, something we agreed upon and wanted with all our hearts.  What happens when you have a “clear cut” and specific picture of what you want is that these thoughts played in the theatre of your mind become the deeds we act out in our daily life.

Happiness is now

As you proceed toward your goal – don’t put off living.  Some people live their whole life, being happy when something happens. Recognize that “Happiness is Now”, so enjoy the journey.  Hey, will be happy when they get a new car, when the baby comes or when they buy a house.  Then they will be happy when the car is paid off, the house is furnished and decorated, or when the kids leave home.  There are no “re-runs” to life, this is not a rehearsal.

Detours Along the Way

Now, you will have stumbling blocks, things will happen that will delay your progress.  That’s just life.  I remember the day I received a telephone call from my Uncle back East telling me that my Grandfather was dying.  We had left Rhode Island seven years earlier and I had not been back for a visit.  Papa had not seen the latest of our two children, so we decided to pack up the car and the kids and high tail it back to be with him one last time.

Things went as well as one could expect considering we were traveling with three boys all under the age of eight in a 1959 Pontiac with no air conditioning along the old Route 66, linking Los Angles to Boston, Mass.  Until we came to a detour somewhere in the Panhandle of Texas. It would be a very long delay and take us off our route by over 100 miles.

Now, we could have given up, turned around, and come back to California.  Now, would that have made any sense?  Of course not!  We had a “burning desire” to get there, we were committed and forged on.


Anytime you start something new, when you step up and away from the ordinary, it’s surprising how few encourage you by saying “Go for it”, “You can do it, you’re going to be Great”.  It is really important not to be influenced by the failures around you.  I call them, “The destroyers in Life”. It takes months and years to have a baby and raise a child or to build a building, and then some nut appears with a gun or a bomb and in one moment destroys what we have created.  The destroyers in life are like that.

They will drag you down, take you down, and put you down. When you try a new thing, a new idea, a new job or venture, they say “It won’t work”. Then when you succeed they say “It won’t last” You were just lucky.

So, be careful who you associate with because “what’s around you, is you”.  If you stay around them long enough, you will be just like them.  Remember, when two people get together, either you influence them or they will influence you.  That’s just the way it is.  You have the choice, it’s up to you, so why not make a conscious decision to be around someone who is positive, looking forward to great things ahead, and expects the best of everyone.

There’s an old poem that goes something like this: “There’s a destiny that makes us brothers, no one goes too far alone. What you put into the lives of others, comes back to your very own”.

This article was modified from an article originally written by Roberta Standen and posted to this site on 2002/05/24.