TREASURES RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES
Make the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it. Edward Bok
We've lived in Central Florida for 21 years, and it's taken us this long to visit one of the most amazing venues in the area: Bok Tower Gardens and Carillon in Lake Wales, Florida. Why we never went there sooner, I do not know.
Over the Christmas holiday, our son Evan recommended this place to Ray, our daughter Elisabeth's boyfriend, as a beautiful place for him to propose to her. The account of their engagement here and the pictures they took encouraged us to come here last week to discover it for ourselves. We found a lush 250-acre sanctuary of flowers, meadows, waterways, and peaceful settings, crowned with the enchanting and artistic 205-foot carillon tower, all atop the highest spot in the Florida peninsula.
This National Historic Landmark was the gift of Dutch immigrant and successful magazine publisher Edward Bok. In the 1920s, he wanted to express his appreciation for his adopted country with a lasting endowment of beauty and music. He hired the greatest architect of his day to build the tower and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., perhaps the greatest American landscape architect of all time, to design the gardens. He commissioned a magnificent 60-bell carillon to be built at the top of the tower. All of this came together in a truly stunning middle-of-nowhere setting about an hour's drive from Orlando or Tampa.
I went there with Marcie and her brother Allan and sister-in-law Janet. We took a picnic and spent a delightful day wandering wooded paths, listening to the bells, and admiring the spring flowers. The weather was ideal, the company was congenial, and the surroundings were beyond compare!
Driving home, I began to wonder how many other jewels of similar magnitude I have missed while living here. What else have I overlooked? Maybe the glitter of "shiny things" like Disney World and Universal Studios has distracted me and caused me to miss glorious settings and experiences right under my own nose.
Isn't that one of those sad-but-true facts of modern life - we chase the bright lights and glamor so intently that we tend to miss the gentle pleasures nearby? I have resolved that I will do better in these matters.
Thank you, Edward Bok, for your generosity. Thank you for preserving this delightful hilltop oasis from relentless development. And thank you for reminding us by your example that one person, properly inspired, can indeed make the world a bit more beautiful because he or she has lived in it.
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In addition to the quote at the top of this article, here are some other snippets of wisdom from Edward Bok that you might enjoy:
Give the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.
Find your place and hold it; find your work and do it. And put everything you've got into it.
The making of money, the accumulation of material power, is not all there is to living...and the man who misses this truth misses the greatest joy and satisfaction that can come into his life -- service for others.
The price of success: hard work, patience, and a few sacrifices.
A young person, to achieve, must first get out of his mind any notion either of the ease or rapidity of success. Nothing ever just happens in this world.