This week’s hangout session

Dear Friend,

As I mentioned previously, you don’t have to answer all or any of the the questions at the end of this hangout session. They are just to help you remember important events and stories in your life. Jot down a few notes, and if you like, send us some of your thoughts and memories to livelearnlaugh@duanehiatt.com

My friend Dr. Kent Harrison, university professor emeritus of physics responded to our last hangout discussion with a list of the most valuable things in his life. Top of his list just under Heavenly Father and Jesus were his wife and family. No surprise there when you know his history and character. But then who wouldn’t prize a spouse who could put his or her hands on a cool million dollars to help get the family through the monthly bills.

“Janyce has a unique ability to often know what will happen in the future,” Kent told me. He added that their family, like most of us, had received over the years invitations by mail to participate in contests and lotteries. Usually they tossed them in the “round file” aka waste basket. But once when their children were teenagers and young adults (generally the most expensive stretch in a family) Janyce just for fun returned an invitation from Reader’s Digest to win a million dollars. They promptly forgot about it, but then letters began arriving informing them that they were still in a shrinking pool of potential winners.

At length they got a letter inviting their last response. From those who replied the winner would be chosen. As she prepared the response Janyce had the strong impression that they would win the million dollars. Then she got another strong message, “If you win this money it will destroy your family.”

That letter didn’t go into the round file. Janyce carefully shredded it into miniscule bits, destroyed it and never entered another contest.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible says of a virtuous woman, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.” No wonder Kent loves and trusts Janyce.

Would they have won the million dollars? The answer if not irrelevant is at least tangential to the point of our discussion in this book. Janyce was convinced she had to decide between prosperity and posterity. No contest. Her family was worth more than a million dollars.

 Hangout subject

Here are a few lines describing how I came up with the title of this book. You might want to glance at them for a review, then check the questions at the end to add your memories and observations on these subjects.

Preface

“Titles are hard to come by. For one thing, all the good ones have been taken; like Thinner Thighs in Thirty Days, and The Bible.

–Dave Barry

Searching for a title, I wrestled with ideas and language, and came out with three thoughts (three thoughts is a pretty fair accomplishment for me), and six words that started with “L”. They represented what I have tried, and am trying to do with my life.

Looking at the title again, I decided the “Long” needed an asterisk (the asterisk, as you know, is the ancestor of the Hyperlink) so I added one.

Live Long*

*Not long in years necessarily, but long in perspective. Number of years is not an accurate gauge of success. The most important life in the history of the world only lasted 33 years. Planning, managing, and executing a successful life is like succeeding in a career. In a couple of decades, we can have twenty years’ experience on the job, or one year’s experience twenty times.

The difference often lies in our perspective. Generally speaking, the farther ahead we look the better our life plans and performance are. The really successful people stretch their perspective even beyond the veil we call death, and ask themselves, “How can I prepare myself for eternity in heaven?”

When we organize and pursue this endless perspective, our lives are successful no matter how many years we do or don’t accumulate.

Learn a little

Sir Isaac Newton, considered by some the greatest scientific mind in history said, “What we know is a drop. What we don’t know is an ocean.”

We won’t get too far swallowing the ocean with the teaspoon of our mind, but we can enjoy the process of learning, and our lives and those we touch will be richer for it.

Laugh a lot

It takes two muscles to smile, 200 to frown so I read. Laughter helps digestion, and releases in our brain a legal drug named dopamine which helps us relax and lowers our stress. A hearty laugh even tones the muscles. So avoid facial muscle fatigue. Digest, relax, and tone up with a good laugh, or at least a smile.

Thank you

Thanks for opening the book. Reading this far makes you an honorary member of the Triple Double L Club. Welcome fellow pilgrim.

 Now let’s hear from you.

  •  What is one of the favorite cars you’ve ever owned? How did you decide to buy it?
  • Who are some of your most longtime friends? How did you get together?
  • Do you have some favorite keepsakes or souvenirs? How did you acquire them? What makes them valuable to you?
  • What things have you learned to do that make you feel good or successful? Anything from tying your own shoes to riding a bike to earning a PhD in astrophysics.
  • Describe some things that happened in your past that make you laugh or smile to remember. When they happened were they comedies or tragedies at the time?
  • Other memories?

Hang out with Duane Hiatt

Dear friends,

First a little pep talk to inspire us to write down our experiences, thoughts, and memories.

To help you peg this in your mental chronology, it was the very day that Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Half way across the continent two Spanish Franciscan Fathers, and 10 others planned to begin their own contribution to history. They met some delays and actually left about three weeks later, but July 4, 1776 was their planned departure from Santa Fe New Mexico.

Seventeen hundred miles they trekked looking for a route to connect them to the monastery and community of Monterey California. They got as far as Utah Lake which I can see from our barn in our backyard. With winter approaching, they wisely turned back and reached Santa Fe in January 1777. To survive they had to eat half their horses, but not each other as did the Donner party headed for California but trapped in the mountain snow about 70 years later. Senior leader of the party was Francisco Atanasio Dominguez. Junior (by ten years) was Silvestre Velez de Escalante.

Escalante has a school in Durango Colorado named after him. In Utah he has Mountains, a river, the “Canyons of the Escalante,” which cover 1500 square miles of some of the earth’s most spectacular scenery, a national monument, a state park, a town, and a mural in the state capitol building.

Dominguez has a “dinky”[1] street in Durango at the intersection of Walmart and US 550/160.[2] There is also a hill at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon in Utah which was named after Dominguez in 1976 as a 200 year after thought.

Why has the junior member received so much more recognition than the senior? Make note of this fellow humble scribblers of words. HE WROTE DOWN HIS EXPERIENCES, AND OBSERVATIONS.

Most of us will not receive nor particularly covet great hunks of real estate being named after us, but we wouldn’t mind leaving a modest memory as part of our little legacy. That’s what this book is about. Or as I proclaim with pen in hand and tongue in cheek;

Purpose of this book

 THIS BOOK COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE !!!

Do you believe that? I didn’t think so. Who believes advertising anymore? Technically I suppose this book could save your life if you had it in your pocket over your heart and somebody shot you in that spot. It would probably have to be a low caliber gun from a distance, however because the book is not that thick. This is by design. I’m guessing you, like most people I know, are busy, so a modestly sized book with short chapters is more compatible with the time you have to spare for reading. However, if you feel you may be in somebody’s gun sights some time you may want to buy several copies of this book and hold them in front of you at the appropriate moment.

Actually the book is thicker than it might have been because I have left space for you to join me in writing this, your copy of the book. When you have finished, I invite you to add your name on the cover as co-author of our book. I have left a space and an acknowledgment to encourage you to do so.

This book is about life, your life, and the life of a kid who grew up in a small town among “Dear hearts and gentle people,” as that old song says. His memories, combined with yours are what this book will contain when you are finished.

Science fiction writer David Gerrold, observed, “Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face, then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.”

The young man we spoke of didn’t hear that doleful definition of life until later. By then he had already enjoyed more great times than a boy of his means and abilities should expect.

How did that happen? Among other things, he developed a formula, simple but powerful. The “Triple Double L” approach to a happy and successful life. The double L’s are, “Live long* (* in perspective), Learn a little, and Laugh a Lot.                                                             

That boy happened to be me.

But back to saving your life and others!!! You and I know that in advertising it’s important to read the fine print. Here is the pitch with the fine print included.

THIS BOOK COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE !!!

(From being forgotten)

 I believe your life and every person’s life is worthy of a book. There is much heroism, courage, generosity, love, and virtue that either goes unnoticed or is forgotten. It is a good thing to pass on our life experiences and wisdom to those around us and those who come after us. And, as my friends and I used to tell each other growing up, “Everybody’s life has purpose. Even the worst of us can serve as horrible examples.”

But most of us need a little nudge (or a big shove) to get our stories down on paper. My experience and observation is that two big hurdles to writing your history are organization and motivation. I would like to help. I’m thinking if you and I could hang out for a while, we would be swapping stories, and saying, at least in our minds, “That reminds me of the time…”

This book is the hangout. I’m doing the yarn spinning here, but I’m anticipating that at the end of each segment you will fill in the blank space with notes about your own memories. I’ve also included questions I might ask you if we were sitting on the back porch, or on a break from work around the water cooler, or driving a long stretch of monotonous road with time to kill.

My intent is that you will enjoy our time here together, and at the end of the book you will have a desire plus notes and memory joggers to string together your own book, or at least a compilation of events and memories of your past.

And if it works for you, you might want to send a copy of this book to your adventurous Uncle Alvin whose exploits are legendary, but unfortunately legends fade away. Or your sweet grandma who is a model of fine character, but is too modest to tell how she got that way.

So may I invite you to flip through a few pages here? Pick out a chapter or two, see if you enjoy it, and more importantly see what it jogs in your memory.

Questions and observations for your consideration

  •  Whom do you know personally, from the media, or from history who interests and perhaps inspires you?
  • In all modesty, who do you think would be interested in knowing about your life? (Hint, than answer is not “nobody.” See Escalante)
  • What are some of the experiences in your life that have brought you joy?
  • What are some experiences that have been difficult, sad, perhaps even tragic?
  • Any other memories that have been triggered by what you have just read?

If you like, you can send us some of your thoughts at duanehiatt@gmail.com

Sharing memories triggered by Live Long*, Learn a little, Laugh a lot

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your help with my book Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot. My son Dan and I have been busy, building a cover, adding photos, obtaining an ISBN number which allows book dealers and others to order the book, and a Library of Congress number which helps other libraries obtain the book, and all the other nuts and bolts of putting a book together.

Corresponding with you, I found the book was not just a story teller. It was a memory jogger and conversation starter. Many times we would send out a chapter and get a “that reminds me” response, so we decided to add this aspect to the book.  After each chapter we will provide space for the reader to add notes from his or her own life experiences. To stimulate memories, I have added a few questions, and an invitation to respond to whatever other stories the chapter triggered. The book can then become a repository of memories, and perhaps an inspiration to the reader to write (or complete since many of us have started more than once) his or her own memoirs.

We would like to play this game with you. If it is all right with you, we will send the chapters to you one at a time with the questions at the end and invite you to share your memories with us by return email. We will also be setting up a website livelearnlaugh.comOn which we would post some of the stories to a wider audience. We would include your name or leave it anonymous whichever you preferred. We would hope thereby to spread the entertainment, instruction, and inspiration of living long* learning a little, and laughing a lot among each other and perhaps to a wider audience.

It is sometimes a tough world out there, and it helps if we can encourage and lift each other along the way. If this idea doesn’t appeal to you, you can let us know in the famous twisted syntax attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, “Gentlemen, include me out.”

Thanks again for all your help.