Wednesday, November 22, 2017



"I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet."
Chinese proverb

When I was about six or seven, I was a bit jealous of one of my classmates named Robert. While I was one of several children, Robert was an only child. While I had but a few toys, which I had to share with all my siblings, he seemed to have every toy imaginable and he didn't have to share them with anyone.  

My envy of Robert hit a new peak when I attended his birthday party and discovered that he owned the ultimate 1950s luxury: his own electric record player and dozens of records to play on it. Life just wasn't fair.

One of the records he played several times that day was a song by Burl Ives called "Horace the Horse." Horace was a merry-go-round horse who always seemed to be bringing up the rear, which made him quite miserable. I could readily relate to Horace:

Horace the horse on the merry-go-round
Went up and down, round and round
He's been sad since the day he found
He's the very last horse on the merry-go-round.

The music began and away they'd go
High and low, to and fro
Poor old Horace would always say
"I'm the very last horse again today."

How he tried and tried and tried
But he just never could win
Horace cried and cried and cried,
'Cause all the other horses were ahead of him.

The more I listened to Horace's tale of woe and compared my situation with Robert's, the more unsatisfied I became with my own miserable life.  

But then I listened carefully to the last verse.

As its message sunk in and I understood how that lesson could apply to me at that very moment, everything changed for me, just as it did for Horace:

Then came the day on the merry-go-round
Horace turned, looked around, then said, "Gosh, Oh gee!
I'm the very first horse on the merry-go-round
'Cause the others are following me!"

My pathetic little pity party ended promptly when I changed the way I viewed my situation in comparison to Robert's. Sure, he had lots of toys, but he had no one to play with. I had a whole batch of built-in playmates. We could play basketball or football or hide-and-seek or kick the can or Red Rover at our house, but all Robert could do was play records to himself. Poor Robert!

Somehow those words from Horace the Horse and the lesson they taught have stuck with me all these years. They remind me that there is magic - or misery - in the ways I compare myself to others, and the choice is mine and mine alone. If I find myself lamenting my lot in life, I have but to turn around and, if I choose to, I can see life differently.  

Thomas S. Monson said, "Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings." In a similar vein, the Greek philosopher Epictetus observed, "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."  

This Thanksgiving, I invite you to pause and contemplate your blessings. I encourage you to turn, look around, and say "Gosh, Oh gee!" as you discover how wonderful your life really is. I recommend that you express your appreciation to the people who matter most to you, and give thanks for all we enjoy here in America that others in the world can only dream of having. This Thanksgiving, be grateful.

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Here's a link for the song about Horace the Horse:  

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