Saturday, October 11, 2008

I See… Famous Last Words from Great Minds Thinking Alike

What moves you? What inspires you to greater heights of achievement in any dimension of life? When I asked that question to myself, the answer was instructive and enlightening. When I clinically evaluated in-depth commonalities among passages of scripture, the words of latter-day leaders, and the other utterances of those I respect, the result was surprising- many times it was their last words before they died. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie’s testimony of the Savior; President Ezra Taft Benson’s classic address on pride; Moroni’s charge to obtain a testimony of the Book of Mormon by first possessing an attitude of gratitude, then approaching the Lord in personal, quiet prayer; these move me.

This conclusion prompted another round of lazy pondering- Why? Why are last words so moving? Could it be that man and womankind, when they are preparing to wrap up the last chapters of their lives and facing the uncertain, yet hopeful realities of their Third Estate, reflect on what is truly important? If so, then there should be no book more important to us, except for the scriptures, than a collection of “last words.”

This is when the great idea happened. I hypothesized that, after my wildly unsuccessful book compiling personal stories of how small things matter, titled “Small Things,” I could seek repentance by pulling together a truly important collection of last words spoken by church leaders and others I respect.

What a great idea! As I marched forward with more in-depth research, I was rewarded with more sacred and satisfying instruction for the conduct of my own life than I ever thought possible. The excitement of how many others would be blessed by access to this select kind of knowledge threatened to overwhelm me.

My carefully constructed house of literary cards tumbled to ground in a matter of seconds, however, during an innocent internet search. My heart crumbled into a thousand tiny little pieces when, after a casual internet search on the term, “last words,” I discovered that someone else was way ahead of me- Kathleen Ryan, a very talented biographer with decades of expert writing experience, had already acted on my great idea and wrote “Last Words for the Last Days.” What made things worse was that after reading the book, I knew in my heart of hearts that there was no way I could ever match, much less exceed, the quality of writing it contained. She had actually done what I was dreaming of.

I decided to comfort myself by claiming that through this humbling experience, I was able to conclusively prove two important theorems- last words can be most valuable to those open to listening for them, and great minds do think alike!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your wonderful blog that uplifts and inspires so many. You are quite right…there is enough depressing and destructive stuff out there already. What you do adds balance to our lives. Thank you also for your glowing and touching personal comments about my book. I was humbled to the core. Last Words for the Last Days came about as a direct answer to a seven-year prayer (a longing really) that I might prove worthy enough for the Lord to use the talents He has given me – that He could find some tiny thing for me to do that would help strengthen the Saints in the last days. The story of your own convictions that a compilation of last words might prove valuable closely mirrored my own road to discovery. I am reminded of the prophecy that in the last days there will be outpouring of inspiration and revelation, and thrilled to know that you and I are a part of that.