To a new year, a new life and an old man’s wisdom

The Standard Journal - - EDITORIALS & OPINION - DICK YARBROUGH Dear Cameron Charles Yarbrough: Love, PA

As has been my cus­tom this time of year, I was about to im­part some of an old man’s wisdom to my one and only great-grand­son, but there has been a new de­vel­op­ment. Henry San­ford Wans­ley de­cided to make an ap­pear­ance. (And on New Year’s Day!) Two great­grand­sons. Too good to be true – but it is.

As of this writ­ing, I have not yet met Henry, but I hope to rec­tify that sit­u­a­tion soon. Here’s hop­ing he likes what he sees. Like it or not, he is stuck with me. I come with the fam­ily.

Let me start with a caveat: Great-grand­par­ents are lo­cated down the food chain, be­hind par­ents and grand­par­ents. Even af­ter all these years, I am still not sure what my role is sup­posed to be. I hope I am not con­sid­ered com­pe­ti­tion, but I have lived longer, ex­pe­ri­enced more and age has given me a per­spec­tive they do not yet have. Plus, I helped raise two of the grand­par­ents. That alone gives me pri­macy in the ad­vice-dis­pens­ing depart­ment.

Cameron, you have 10-year head start on your cousin, Henry. Chances are I won’t be around long enough to see how ei­ther of you turn out, but

I hope you will be as good a role model for him as I have tried to be for you. I feel con­fi­dent he will do just fine. He is grow­ing up in a fam­ily with a lot of love in it. That is im­por­tant. With­out peo­ple to love you and care about you, this world can be an ugly, cruel place.

In the mean­time, may Henry San­ford Wans­ley look at you and ad­mire what he sees, that you have made good choices in your life. Good choices are not al­ways easy choices. Some­times, that means you must go against the grain. That can take a lot of courage. Don’t let small-minded peo­ple pull you down to their level. Try to bring them up to yours.

Let Henry see that you talk softly but that you mean what you say. Don’t brag. Leave the hy­per­bole for the tele­vi­sion ads. Don’t ex­ag­ger­ate try­ing to make folks think you are some­thing or some­body that you are not. In­stead, show them who you are by how you live your life and live it to the best of your con­sid­er­able abil­i­ties – and qui­etly.

Learn what you can con­trol and what you can’t. You can’t change what hap­pened yes­ter­day — although you can learn from it — and you have no idea what to­mor­row will bring or even if there will be a to­mor­row. Don’t waste this pre­cious day grind­ing over some­thing that you won’t even re­mem­ber a year from now. If it is within your power to change some­thing for the bet­ter, do it. If not, let it go.

When fate deals you a blow, deal with it coura­geously and tena­ciously. No­body ever said life was fair. What­ever you do, don’t whine. I can’t re­call whin­ing ever solv­ing a prob­lem. It is just an ex­cuse for a self-pity party and, hope­fully, you will be too busy do­ing good things to even think of whin­ing.

Don’t be afraid to make a mis­take. Mis­takes are a great learn­ing tool. They keep us hum­ble and re­mind us that we are hu­man. Just try and not make the same mis­take twice.

Don’t be ar­ro­gant but feel good about your­self. Peo­ple’s opin­ions can be im­por­tant but don’t be gov­erned by what oth­ers think of you. They don’t know you as well as you know your­self. You are God’s cre­ation. Re­joice in it and be ex­ceed­ingly glad.

Don’t ra­tio­nal­ize bad be­hav­ior. Your mind can come up with all kinds of ex­pla­na­tions for a lapse in good judge­ment, but not your gut. Deep down in­side, you know what is right and what is wrong. Trust your gut.

What­ever you do, Cameron Charles Yarbrough, be the best you can be in all that you do. Don’t ac­cept medi­ocrity. Strive for ex­cel­lence. Don’t be afraid of big dreams. A wise man once wrote these words: “You see things and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were and I say, ‘Why not?’” Why not, in­deed?

In the mean­time, let us both cel­e­brate the new life of Henry San­ford Wans­ley. In his first few days on this Earth, he has al­ready taught me an im­por­tant les­son: You don’t have to di­vide your love be­tween your great-grand­sons. You sim­ply mul­ti­ply it. And that I have done.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at [email protected]­; at P.O. Box 725373, At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, 31139 or on Face­book at



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