Notes From a New Almanac
FROM: June 1934’s The Whisper—Vancourier to the Voice
Valley of the Pines
There was once a King, (or perhaps I only dreamed it.) who conceived the idea of lowering the taxes of men who labored hard to beautify their own property. According to the value of their labor this good King took into account every hour his subjects spent in this way for themselves. He knew full well that the value of such men to a community in setting an example, and the results of their efforts in a stimulation of the spirit of progress and industry, would be worth far more than the amount of reduction in tax. In fact, (or did I dream it?) this little kingdom became so beautiful and so prosperous that the less philosophical Kings of neighboring countries could not endure the reproach of its existence, so they got together and wiped it from the face of the earth.
Well, it won’t lower our taxes to do so, but now is the time to clean the yard and beautify our homes for the coming season. Not the front yard alone. A man’s front yard may indicate his pride and personality, but his backyard, his cellar and his attic reflect the stability of his character and principle of life. Perhaps the idea of a beautiful and prosperous community is not sufficient to stimulate a little extra effort. The idea of being master of one’ own destiny may prove more attractive. This is impossible if one is not master of the little kingdom of his own environments. Mastership, as well as charity, begins at home. I still think that was a wise King, even at the price of annihilation.
If you will kill those few flies that unlimber themselves this Spring, realizing that with every swat you are doing away with several million, and if you and all your neighbors would take great pains to see that nothing is left exposed, indoors or out, to attract them as food or a place to lay their eggs, it might surprise you by next July and August how few flies there would be.
And this goes for thoughts as well. If you would take a good healthy swat at every undesirable thought or suggestion that buzzes around your ears or in front of your eyes, before it gets in to lay eggs in a million brain-cells, you might avoid the swarm of annoying thoughts that will later worry you far more than the flies and mosquitoes. You can screen in your porch and get away from the flies, but few people know the secret of making screened porches in their mind as a haven or refuge from their own thoughts.
Now is the time to clean out your brain, as well as your cellar, attic and yard. How many men and women take steps to prevent premature age by adopting some hobby to relieve repression and suppression, freeing the mind of an inferiority, a hazard, a burden of no value, in reality a detriment? But because it is paid for, one is ashamed to own it, in fear of expressing the fact. However, in being a child once more, you scatter the toys too old to play with. In the hunting season you can go hunting to open your steam safety-valve to prevent murder. But at least you can play golf, to prevent a theft. Go to some social affair and talk for hours to empty your basket of inclinations, so you may not exaggerate or tell white lies that may become grey; then black. Wash out your brain, heart and body for a new week, a new month, a new season or a new year.
Sometimes the Spring seems slow to waken, and so do we; but let us waken with the Spring, and not lag behind. Just a little longer and you can listen to the wonderful music of spring twilight . . .
The tree-toads, the frogs, a reed bird or two . . Smell the lilacs, the spring blossoms . . Then you will see that we cannot so readily condemn the cold blizzards of two or three months before. There is your “Evil”: and a night like this your “Virtue.” How could one recognize virtue without vice, joy without sorrow, health without sickness, success without failure?
I suppose since warm weather arrived, you have been ready to buy cheaper gasoline for your car, and regulate your carburetor. Why not at the same time do the same thing to your own body, to meet the season’s requirements? Eat what you should for health and mind. You don’t feed your race-horse on marsh hay, do you? Well, if anything is wrong, just study your menu. It may prove the missing link to all your troubles. Try to cheat your steam boiler or live stock and see your returns. If we are creatures of habit why not pick out a good habit and draw compound interest?
ARE YOU the man who kills a mosquito,
The man who screens off his house,
Or he who drains the swamps?