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always go first

2021 is upon us.  Independent of the calendar, it is just another day.  But as is our ritual, we see the beginning of a new year.  Each day is the beginning of the next twelve months of our lives.  But alas, I will follow our custom of celebration and reflection.  It is your opportunity to hold on to the past or become energized about the future.

No matter how 2020 impacted you, it is almost over.  Whether it brought you the birth of a new family member or the passing of a loved one, it is nearly a memory.  We are creatures of habit and do not embrace starting over readily.  We like to cling to the past and the nostalgia that accompanies those memories.  The following story by Dr. Wilson provides perspective.  You can find a link to his ministry at

[Don't Cling to the Firewood

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

They're just a young couple, I can tell. These mice who have taken up residence in the woodpile are just starting in life. They've built a nest under the pile of oak firewood I am loading into the back of our station wagon.

We had our first frost a few days ago and had spent several days winterizing our house. So had this mouse couple.  At the bottom of the woodpile, their nest would be dry and warm in all but the wettest of storms, ready for the young ones that would surely be coming soon.

These are tiny mice, equipped with miniature jumping legs, their little bodies only 2-1/2 inches long -- if you don't count the tail. I must seem like a huge giant as I deconstruct their carefully built lives, one log at a time.

 They are such cute little creatures, so hopeful for the future, yet so filled with terror at what is happening to them.

"What's going on, dear?" the mouse bride cries.

"I don't know," her mouse husband answers. "Nothing like this has ever happened before."

He's wrong, of course. Change happens -- frequently. But, thankfully, it's not too often that our entire lives are altered forever by external events.

You've had some of those turns, too.

  • Covid
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Loss of a job
  • Failure of a business
  • An illness or injury

Suddenly, life is not the same, and never will be again. Everything's different. And we try to cope -- sometimes in healthy ways, sometimes in self-destructive ways.

I keep loading the firewood into the back of the wagon. I'm about to stack it higher yet when I see one of the tiny mice clinging to a piece of firewood in the car. Another few seconds, and he would get crushed. I pick him up by his long tail, set him on the ground, and go back to get more logs. When I return, he is still at the same place on the earth where I put him -- stunned by these events, barely able to get out of harm's way.

We're so mouse-like sometimes, and change requires courage, generous helpings of it.  Our mouse couple looks up as their world is trembling. The logs that comprise their shelter are disappearing one by one, and soon the open sky is above. What do you do?

Do you cling to the firewood and risked being crushed by it? Change is a constant. No part of our lives will endure unchanged for more than a few years, a few decades at most.  I hope that Mr. Mouse has finally got over his shock and got with the program. Older now and wiser they are.

And if I could offer just one word of advice for them and you -- and for me -- it would be this: Don't cling to the firewood.]

You cannot change what has happened to you.  You can control your response.  Your last breath is not nearly as important as your next breath.  Each day is an opportunity for making a difference in the lives of others.  We may not always get the feedback we want or think we deserve from people around us.  But if you are serving others, you are making a dent in the universe. 

I ask one favor from each of you.  Be a living eulogy for others.  Take time to tell people how you feel about them when it is positive.  Talk about funny stories and laugh at the silliness of your time together.  Even when it feels weird, tell people what you admire about them.  Eulogies are wasted on the dead if we didn't share our feelings with them during their life.  Be the person that goes first with positive comments for others.   Always go first with positivity.

I wish a Happy New Year to you and your family in 2021.  It is my last article of the year, and I want to thank my loyal readers, followers, and contributors.  Your feedback and comments are a true blessing.

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