Today was beautiful in the Texas Hill Country. I repaired a birdbath for our flying friends coming in from the north for winter. Afterwards, I sat in our bench swing and thought about my grandfather.
Some of my favorite memories are sitting next to him on his front porch swing, as a young boy at his home in Abilene, Texas and as a man after he moved to Mernard, above the Hill Country.
Bassett Arthur was a kind gentleman, who as a Navy Seabee spent much of his time in the Philippines during World War II.
While I enjoyed listening to his historical adventures in the Philippines, at sea, and his training, the most impactful discussions involved some remarkable struggles and how they collectively shaped his philosophies of life.
“Grandpa, I’ve been wanting to ask you something, so do you mind if I ask you something personal?” I brought up one afternoon while we sat on lawn chairs in his back yard.
“Well, I’d be glad to,” he smiled. “What’s been on your mind?”
“You are always so relaxed, cheerful, and seem very happy and content,” I commented. “A lot of people nowadays seem so stressed and tied up in knots. What is your secret?”
Grandpa laughed and said a few things about how he enjoys simple things like working in his garden, reading, and “fiddling” with his tools.
“The best advice I could give anyone is not to compare yourself with anyone,” he grinned. “Your life is your life. The road you travel and the experiences you face are yours. Don’t measure your worth by what others have, or do, or where they live. Gauge yourself, your mistakes and successes based only on your own life, not theirs.”
“It took me awhile, but eventually I noticed that people seem to hold others up to a higher standard than they did for themselves,” he continued. “Some would put others down or intimidate to try to make themselves feel superior, but it really just boiled down to people didn’t set the high standards for themselves like they expected of others.”
“In everything you do, don’t do as others do,” Grandpa spoke. “Set your own standards for yourself. Don’t let anyone set them for you.”
“So, I didn’t compare what I was doing or saying with what others were,” he explained. “I just set up my own standards for myself and tried to set my personal standards higher and above what I expected from others.”
Just like the flavorsome fruits and vegetables from his garden, Grandpa Arthur continually seemed to nurture, grow and surround himself with positive people.
“Misery loves company, so get rid of the rot,” he would often say. “Weed out the bad. Seed in the good.”