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The Source Of All Energy Is Hope

by Dana Blankenhorn

We're getting through the tech wreck OK, thanks to my lovely wife.

She's a computer programmer. Works on transaction processing systems. She can get along with people and explain what she's doing in English. She also has (or seems to have) unlimited stores of energy. When big deadlines demand that she go at it 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, she goes, yet somehow the laundry gets done, too.

The source of this energy can be traced back a century, to a Texas prairie town where German was the only language spoken. Jenni's Dad was raised in a world where you worked from sun-up to sun-down or you didn't eat. And he never changed.

There were times she resented the fact that he'd wake up before she did, run a school system until dinner-time, then go run a second business on the side until after she was asleep. She got over that resentment after she had her own family, and found she could call on that same kind of energy. She is always busy at something. If there are chores she does chores, if not she keeps our books, and if not she still finds time to read several hours per day.

I saw this energy first-hand before our daughter was born. Jenni's Dad was retired by then, but far from tired. He came up from Texas to build two closets in our bedroom, sleeping in the sawdust, doing the dimensions by hand. He was 67, yet he worked myself and a friend into the ground.

I mention this because he's now nearly 85, and ill, and we don't know if maybe this time he won't walk away from it. He's the rock of a huge, extended family, and no one can fill his shoes. He has set his affairs in perfect order, and everyone will be taken care of, but it's his presence we treasure now.

For me, Jenni's Dad always seemed a sharp contrast to my own father, whose story drew so much comment here recently. Nothing my dad tried worked out. He never followed through. Jenni's Dad always followed through, always. And his daughter follows through, too. So I bask in the warmth of his energy, second-hand, and when I get tired at this typewriter, when my own energy flags, I wonder, how in the world does he do it?

I have no firm answer for that. I only surmise, from watching his daughter, that he has taken every day of his life as a gift, as a chance to do some good in the world, as a chance to take care of others, and to offer hope.

There are many sources of happiness in this world. I get it from writing. I need to be here, and to have you reading me, or I feel like I don't exist. And for a long time I thought that was the only way to be happy. If you're not doing something meaningful, something you hope will last, I would wonder, why are you sucking oxygen?

But it's the process of doing that's more important than the result. Being dependable, being depended upon and delivering, is a great reward. You build a life from pieces of time, from units of energy, you fight entropy as much as you can, every day, with whatever you have. The result is not for you to judge.

Jenni's Dad will leave his family in comfort. His children have all gone to college, he's seen most of his grandchildren graduate, and even his great-grandchildren are coming along fine. But, while the money that brought college educations and suburban lifestyles for generations to come is welcome, that's not his legacy.

His legacy lies in a story.

As I mentioned before, Jenni's Dad was a school superintendent. He was a school superintendent for over a quarter-century. In the mid-1960s he was asked to build a new elementary school, and rather than putting some politician's name on it (or trying to get his own name there, as he could have), he asked his children what they would like to name their school.

He was very pleased with their answer. Hope, they said. Their community was poor, and most of the parents were new immigrants, just as his family had been.

So Jenni's Dad called Bob Hope. And he prepared a ceremony. But Hope, being a very busy man, dawdled on setting a date, and the work wasn't going to wait on him. So in exasperation Jenni's Dad called Hope's assistant and said, "If he can't give me a date in the next hour I'm going to name it for Crosby." Five minutes later the phone rang. "This is Bob 'please don't name it for Crosby' Hope." So Bob Hope Elementary was born. And Hope said later that it was one of the greatest moments of his own greatly-honored life, because he hadn't been able to graduate from elementary school himself.

The greatest honor of Bob Hope's life was pushed on him by Jenni's Dad, not because he necessarily wanted to honor Hope, but because he wanted to honor hope. Knowing him has been the greatest honor of my life. My prayer is that my children, and their children, can build something on the hope he brought the world.

Well, I hope that we at least try. Remember, when things don't go right, that you can still build tomorrow. Remember, when your energy flags, that you can still use whatever you have. Remember that showing up and staying on the job is something anyone can do, and very meaningful. And remember that, in the end, it's not the building, or the business, or the children you leave behind, that will be your legacy. Your legacy will be the lesson of your example, the hope. That's what you'll be judged by.

copyright (c) Dana Blankenhorn

See Also:

Turtle Dreams
When life seems to overcome me, I often think of that old turtle cow, spending fifty to a hundred years, just doing what God intended for her to do.

The Daffodil Principle
For me that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun -- one bulb at a time -- to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. One bulb at a time. A powerful story you don't want to miss.

Change your life for the better!
If you are tired of hoping and endlessly waiting for something positive to happen or someone to come to your rescue, make a deliberate decision today to take charge of your own life and begin to lead a fulfilled and productive life.

Live Your Life to the Fullest
Do you sometimes feel that you're living a boring life? You just can't seem to find anything exciting.

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