Flashes – The Law of the Harvest

Exclamation MarkConsider a well-known truth that never appears to be fully understood, does a man sow thistles and reap strawberries?  Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” lists this as the fifth semaphore, and of the six semaphores, this one is probably my favorite to discuss.  Not because I am sowing rocks and reaping corn and beans, but because I often sow rancid vegetables and reap garbage, then wonder why I cannot improve my harvest.  As the writings on flash four stated, “Thy speech betrayeth thee,” I am a slow learned and generally only really grasp things after experiencing some consequences that would kill others.  As we discuss the Law of the Harvest, please note I am not here to convince or convert, merely to help myself.  If you find value in this topic, join me, teach me, that we may both then learn more perfectly.

The law of the harvest is straightforward; many farmers know this law cold, “You reap what you sow.”  If you sow lima beans, you do not raise grapes.  If you are sowing carrots, you cannot harvest apples.  No matter how many times you plant them, Cheerios do not sprout a doughnut tree; I know as I planted a LOT of Cheerios.  Bubble gum, when planted, never grows into a bubble gum tree; my mother lied!

Yet, with this mindset, many people, myself included, become depressed, disconnected from reality, and mentally unstable.  Thinking, oh, I can sow gossip and truth, and equity and justice will be shown to me.  I can tell lies, cheat, steal, then become rich, famous, and never have any negative consequences.  I can take and plant some cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, etc., in my body and remain healthy, strong, active, and never suffer mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  The law of the harvest doesn’t work like this, yet, this remains the greatest living lie.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

From the eternal semaphore comes the following:

Be NOT Deceived!  [emphasis mine]”

Now, consider how many people drink alcohol and expect not to suffer a hangover.  Consider the people consuming vast amounts of sugar, in all its various forms, who think they will never suffer diabetes, become overweight, or suffer any consequences from all that sugar.  My aunt is a great woman, fantastic artist, amazingly kind and generous person, and a chocoholic.  She never thought about the consequences of consuming chocolate because the research shows chocolate is healthy; she never could overcome the mental illness she suffered from that the chocolate was a comforting influence.  Her family mourns her passing!

The law of the harvest is a stern warning and an incredible promise.

He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

The pattern is evident for those struggling who sow goodness, kindness, and happiness.  Hold on; your harvest WILL come, and it will be glorious.  In the same breath, those sowing hate, envy, strife, malice, greed, and so much more, your harvest is also coming, and I feel awful for what your harvest will be.  For the law of the harvest comes with a profound sentiment:

God will not be mocked.”Frederick William Robertson Quote: "You reap what you sow - not something else, but that. An act ...

I promise, there is a God, an atonement IS available through His Son, and the Holy Ghost is real and powerful.  The enclosed sentiment in the Law of the Harvest remains my comfort when harvesting the bitter fruits my heart grows.  Yes, many times, I quake for the thought that I desperately need to find a way to raise a better crop on the stony ground of my heart.  Long have I prayed for a change of heart, for a line from Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” rings forever in my mind:

The soil of a man’s heart is stony ground.  A man grows what he can, and he tends it.  ‘Cause, what you buy is what you own.  And what you own… always comes home to you.”

If you get nothing more out of this flash than the need to change fertilizers and seeds, all with an eye to improving your harvest, I have accomplished my goal.  Confucius is quoted as saying, “Our headstrong passions shut the doors of our souls against God.”  What great counsel, our passions are the seeds, the consequences are the fruit, and the law of the harvest governs whether we will have a harvest to enjoy or curse, and we choose how to value that harvest.

Bear with me a moment; I might have lost a few of you.  Let me explain.  As a kid, we often had gardens, and I was regularly on the working end of a hoe killing weeds.  I cursed those weeds; I despised every second I wielded that hoe in the garden.  My cherub-like demeanor was nowhere to be found working those garden rows!  Then came the endless days of harvesting, canning, storing, and eating that which could not be stored; I still was NOT a happy person.  Ever eat zucchini for weeks on end because that horrible stuff reproduces like rabbits in perpetual heat whose water is full of Viagra?You reap what you sow. #bible #liveBigly #life #affiliate #quote #inspiration #message #world # ...

That is the point; when the harvest comes, and a harvest always comes, we choose how we value that which is being harvested.  My father tried hard to teach me this lesson, but all I ever saw were the endless hours sweating in a kitchen preparing jars for canning, the blisters from hoeing the weeds, and the time spent doing that which we would eventually purchase in cans as winter dragged on and on.  I could not see any value in gardening, so the blessings of the harvest were lost on me.  Headstrong passions blinded my eyes to the blessings of the harvest, and I cursed the day I was conceived.  Confucius is correct, and I have witnessed the problems with headstrong passions interfering with the Law of the Harvest many times since.

I am also experiencing the truth from Cicero:

A youth of sensuality and intemperance delivers over to old age a worn-out body.”

I would add, an intemperate youth also yields a worn-out mind!  Having observed this as a youth, I thought I could escape the problems of being intemperate, and I can honestly proclaim, I was wrong!  Since my youth, I lifted objects heavier than practical; I gloried in the strength of my body and pushed it to the absolute limit many times.  What am I reaping; I was disabled by the time I was 30.  I am now older but not wiser.  I still want to push my boundaries without regard for consequences and wind up on the floor, in hospital, or mentally unable to think properly for weeks on end.  As a kid, when my parents were told of one of their kids being punished (a not infrequent occurrence), they regularly said, “Well, he brought that on himself.”  To quote Ray Stevens, “Yeah, I Did!”  I did bring on myself the harvest of intemperance and am delivering a worn-out body and mind to old-age.  There are lots of seeds we plant and many different types of harvests we reap.  When valuing the harvest, choose wisely how you evaluate the crop.#everything #you #do #say #choice #soon #later #quote #lessons #learned #life | Lessons learned ...

Pliny, more famously known as Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny, the Elder,” was a Roman author, naturalist, philosopher, and naval and army commander.  He is quoted as saying:

Lust is an enemy to the purse, a foe to the person, [a] canker to the mind, a corrosive to the conscience, a weakness of the wit, a besotter of the senses, and finally a mortal bane to all of the body.”

Lust is regularly only thought of as an intense sexual desire.  This type of lust definitely fits what Pliny is warning about; however, lust is also an overwhelming craving, unassailable desire, and intense eagerness or enthusiasm.  Yet, many might not fully grasp the semaphore Pliny is flashing; Henry Wordsworth Longfellow might be easier to understand:

The blossoms of passion, gay and luxuriant flowers, are bright and full of fragrance, but they beguile us and lead us astray, and their odor is deadly.”

Henry Giles and John Howe are both flashing the same message, trying to capture our attention and teach the same lesson:

The passions are at once tempters and chastisers.  As tempters, they come with garlands of flowers on brows of youth; as chastisers, they appear with wreaths of snakes on the forehead of deformity.  They are angels of light in their delusions; they are fiends of torment in their afflictions.”

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

What do you regret from your youth as the first tastes of passion’s deadly fruits?  Let me speak plainer; of course, you remember your first time in love, the rush of passions start, and the heartbreak of closure.  Do you see the seeds of passion and the harvested fruits as beneficial or deadly?  I know my answers to this question and understand more fully why modesty, chastity, and virtue are to be honored, respected, and cherished.  You choose how you evaluate your experiences.You reap what you sow | Everyday quotes, Peace quotes, One word inspiration

I currently work with a person who curses their ex-wife in the vilest language imaginable, yet, they praise their child in the same breath and bless the day they came into their life.  What seeds are being planted in the child, the co-workers, and society?  Will the bitter fruit be understood and evaluated as good?  Time will tell.  Byron summed this semaphore perfectly:

Vice digs her own voluptuous tomb.”

Of all the advice given, I wish I had observed the following more perfectly, and while I do not know the author, many have semaphored the following message in one form or another:

Shun the obscene!”

A long time back, exactly when escaped me, I watched a comedian who told some off-color stories for the audience’s amusement.  Those seeds bore some of the most pernicious weeds in my mind, choking out life and pleasure, goodness, and all things clean and kind.  Killing those weeds is a constant exercise, some would classify as futile.  But, I have chosen differently and fought those weeds desiring something better, and the fight continues.  I do not find swearing, debauchery, lewdness, immorality, perversion, and such amusing anymore.  When I came to myself, I cleaned out a LOT of entertainment, removing books, magazines, music, movies, and more in an effort to cling to the good and shun the obscene.  I had to re-learn lessons from childhood.

Now I look back on those mistakes, those seeds planted carelessly, and the bitter and thorny weeds I now fight and wish I could help others understand the same lesson I learned.  Not shunning the obscene leads to problems immeasurable.  In the US Navy, I had a good acquaintance who went to a party, was slipped a mickey, and woke up having been raped by another female.  I counseled my friend to report this event and get tested.  My friend declined because she “did not know if she liked it or not.”  I mourned my friend that day and many days after as she experienced what happened after not shunning the obscene.  Before she revealed her true self, her rapist was a person I respected and who was removed from military service for other actions.  But the crime of rape went unreported, a sad commentary indeed!  John Howe was absolutely correct:

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

Quotes You Reap What You SowMy friend’s experience in the US Navy always brings a poem to mind courtesy of Alexander Pope:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
as to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace
.”

The truth of the matter remains permanently etched upon our souls or consciousness, “You reap what you sow.”  We inherently know this truth, and then become sidetracked by temptation, which comes in the forms of misery, depression, beauty, emotions, and more; wrapped in shiny foil, the fruit inside is always bitter, but the first bite is a temptation that over time becomes that which we would have died to avoid.  Robert Southey, the English poet, semaphored this message thusly:

They who engage in iniquitous designs deceive themselves into thinking that they will go so far and no farther.  One fault begets another; one crime makes another necessary.  Thus downward they go into the depths of guilt, which at the commencement of their career they would have died rather than incurred.”

QuestionCan you relate to your experiences with planting and harvesting?  What are you teaching and semaphoring?  Dr. Johnson adds a comment worth remembering: “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  While Dr. Johnson is correct, there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there are chain cutters available through repentance and a path back.  There is a reason to hope!  Not speaking religiously, nor am I here to convert anyone to any religious flavor, merely to alert those needing it that there is a way to clean your mind and heart, that your future may produce a better harvest.  Even if you might have to harvest garbage for a while as the ground cleans itself of the impurities dumped into it.  Mr. Muir quotes Simons, a reference unknown, regarding the path:

Impure thoughts awaken impure feelings, lead to impure expressions, and beget impure actions, and these lead to imbecility both of body and of mind, and to the ruin of all that is noble and pure in character.”

We who have survived youthful transgressions understand this path perfectly.  Note, we live in an age of severe iconoclasm, where every day, we are bombarded by attacks on established beliefs by institutions built for the sole purpose of tearing down others.  Who cannot replace their depravity and destruction with anything wholesome, good, pure, or worthwhile.  Where beliefs of religion, societal norms, and institutions representing the living and breathing were destroyed for the wanton pleasure of the iconoclasts.  The age of the iconoclasts began with the 1960s, and nothing built since is worth the pain and suffering we are experiencing now.  Worse, those iconoclasts from the 1960s are now teachers and professors, elected leaders, and their legacy of destruction stares them in the face while they laugh and take pleasure at your suffering.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

With each successive generation of iconoclastic behavior, the succeeding generations are a factor of 10 worse than their parents.  Think of how many generations have come and multiplied this abhorrent behavior into society.  Is it any wonder as a society we are in the mess we are in, where criminals get off, the victims are repeatedly punished, good is heralded as evil and evil for good.  But, I promise there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there is a path forward that leads back to life, growth, happiness, goodness, and a morally upright society.  Shunning the obscene is the first step!

Knowledge Check!We must be the generation that begins the repair job from the iconoclast’s destruction.  The ravages inflicted upon us will require re-learning, embracing hope, building faith, and acting charitably through faith and hope to act charitably first to ourselves, then to our families and friends, and then to the broader societies we all live in.  Whether you embrace a religious community or not, the imperative to “Shun the obscene:” the need to sow better crops to reap a more desirable harvest valued by others is universal.  Not to create fervor and fanaticism, but to create a people dedicated to improving ourselves and after improving ourselves to improve the world around us.

May we all enjoy a better harvest is my hope!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Money, Wants and Needs, Goals – This One is Mental Therapy

Bobblehead DollDear reader, you might want to skip this article.  I write this mainly to organize some thoughts for myself.  I am not preaching; I am not trying to teach anyone but myself; if you find something that helps you, you are welcome to the words and lessons.  I have been struggling with learning a couple of things surrounding a couple of topics, and I want to take a minute and jot down some thoughts that have come to me.  I will return to weightier matters another day.  Please excuse me.

Money

My best friend, traveling companion, and spouse, once said something that stuck in my mental processes, “Money is sacred! [emphasis in original]”  She continued over time to add words to the effect that, since money requires effort and sweat to earn, money should be considered sacred and spent with purpose.  When spending money with a sacred purpose, we would necessarily change our spending habits to reflect the sacred nature of money, and in doing so, honor our sacrifice in earning money, respecting ourselves more.

Working DollarSince 2000 the software industry has undergone a very subtle shift; no longer do you purchase software, you rent it.  You make a monthly purchase for that software, which becomes more than the price you would ever have paid for the software previously.  Now, some argue this is due to the cost of upgrading software.  Some argue this is due to the price of intellectual property.  Some argue this is to reduce the cost of piracy of software.  Regardless, does this shift honor your sacrifice in earning money?

Games, especially phone games, are really expensive.  I have an addiction problem to phone games.  I quickly get hooked, then I justify making a dollar purchase here, a two-dollar purchase there, and then at the end of the month, look at the bill and see I spent $400 on a phone game.  True story.  I turn on the passwords; I turn on the purchase blockers, I try hard to avoid making purchases.  I can only succeed when I delete the games, put down my phone, and stop playing games.  I have tried playing games without making purchases and would argue that it is nearly impossible to play any game without making purchases. The games are not designed to be played; they are intended to be cash machines for the game manufacturers.  Maybe I am jaded, but I have yet to find any game that does not require regular cash infusions; believe me, I have tried to find a game that can be played without spending money, and I quit looking.

I am thoroughly embarrassed, shocked, dismayed, and disgusted by how much I have spent on games.  I lost my head some time ago, and it is past time I got myself back together again.  I turned off the last game this morning and will begin the slow addiction recovery process this morning; if I am grumpy, edgy, and bearish to be around, my apologies.  For the last couple of months, I have been overcoming sugar addictions that I think will kill me, gluten addictions that are harder than chocolate and tobacco combined, and I thought chocolate would kill me.  In the quest to lose weight and clean up my life to improve my diabetes, I am left with many questions about addictions and crutches.Question

I was speaking to a medical professional a month or two back and jokingly said:

Food for too long has been my comfort zone; I wonder what will take its place now that diabetes has ended food being the comfort blanket.”

Me and my big mouth!

For those going through addiction recovery for the more common drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, etc., know you are not alone.  I have been there for tobacco, now for sugar, chocolate, gluten, money, and food!  It never ceases to amaze me what humans will become addicted to, what we will use to find comfort in, what we wrap ourselves up in to find security and peace to silence the voices in our heads and a good night’s sleep.  I offer you the same hope I cling to, “We were born to succeed; we can do this!”

Wants and Needs

Robert Fulghum explained this one so well in one of his early books.  I will summarize his story but take the time to look up his story; you will laugh, HARD!  He is staffing a reception desk at a Dude Ranch Hotel on a night shift where he gets his meals included, but he has to pay for them from his salary.  The employee meals have been sauerkraut and sausages for a couple of weeks.  He is frustrated; he is mad; he wants to quit.  He reaches a boiling point.  He unloads one night on his relief an older gentleman, a WWII POW camp survivor (I think if I remember the story right).  Anyway, after listening to the rantings and ravings of a childish teenager, this older gentleman gives Mr. Fulghum a piece of advice, “you have to learn the difference between wants and needs.”

GearsI fully appreciate I struggle with this lesson.  I keep getting wants and needs confused.  Do I need a chocolate bar?  Do I want something to eat?  Do I want food?  Do I need food?  Much of my weight problem is trying to figure out wants versus needs.  Much of my mental state is wants versus needs and the confusion between what I want and what I need.  Going back to the games, do I really need a bucket of gems, or that shiny bottle of vitality?

While writing this section, the Grammarly word choices reminded me of another aspect of this conversation, words that confuse the wants versus needs selection cycle.  The English language continues to be a double-edged sword, sufficient to describe and to confuse in the same stroke.  Trying to figure out what I want and distinguishing between what I need has become clouded.  Why?  How?  I have learned that it does not matter when or where the clouding occurred, these happened, it is done; the job is to get them unclouded and get moving forward!

Goals

I do not know the original source.  I have heard several people make similar statements; I am not the initial source of the following thought.

If you have a dream, write it down.  Now you have an action item.  With that action item, give it a date you want to have it accomplished by.  Now you have a goal.  With that goal, set specific steps to achieve and milestones.  Now you have a plan.”

I would add a final thought.  Upon completion of each milestone and especially upon completion of the goal, CELEBRATE!  Celebrate failure, celebrate success.  Then the day after, hold an “After Action Review (AAR)” and review what was learned, pain points, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Start anew!  Too often, we miss the celebrations, and we forget to hold the self-reflections, and in doing so, we do not bring a goal to a close, and we do not write down lessons learned.  Failure to learn lessons means we relive those lessons.  How very tragic!Exclamation Mark

To answer the inevitable question, yes.  I have a list of goals for the coming year.  No, I will not be sharing this list publicly.  Yes, the goals are written down.  Yes, I have an end date.  Yes, I look to have the goals completed in 365-days.  Mental therapy is useless if I do not apply the lessons in my own life!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Thought and Character – A Discussion

WhyIn Proverbs, Old Testament, we find an oft-quoted aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”  If we first accept this aphorism as truth, then the following from James Allen, from “As a Man Thinketh (1903)” can also be presumed truthful.  “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.  As the plants springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them.”  Bringing into sharp reflection the connection between how a person thinks and their character.

In high school, the football and wrestling coaches played mind games to help us players think and become winners. Then, we went through drills to practice thinking and planning moves, so our most important muscle, the mind, was prepared to act when challenged physically.  Likewise, as a firefighter, I know the value of mentally walking through situations to prepare my mind and my fire teams’ minds before being challenged physically to respond to a threat or incident.

Ziggy on Political WeatherI once met a professional soccer player; we shared a bus trip from Salt Lake City to Vernal, Utah, as he traveled to catch a plane in Denver, Colorado.  While I do not envy him, his travel scheduler, we had a very interesting conversation on how thinking builds character.  Professional sports players have similar mental walk-throughs as a regular part of their daily exercises.  Here I had always been under the impression this was for non-professional sports players and was pleasantly surprised to hear his experiences.

James Allen insists that “Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.”  In the US Army, while serving as a Chaplain’s Assistant, I was wandering through the line company barracks and stumbled across a tank crew having “Sergeant’s Time” in the hallway.  There I met the most interesting character; he held a doctorate from MIT, he was utterly brilliant, and he was a specialist who drove tanks for a living.  When asked why driving tanks and not working in his field of study, he stated, “I do not like my field of study.”  Through education, this soldier had made himself tools for building a career he detested in a field he was bored with, and in seeking adventure, he joined the US Army as an enlisted man and found something he preferred.

ToolsThe tools of education became the chains of bondage and weapons that left him without passion.  His thoughts had turned his desires in his chosen field into a trap, where he thought his only way out was doing something radical and “out of character.”  Except for those who knew him, his character was always bent towards being a soldier, but he had not thought thru this character aspect himself.  His thoughts had already revealed his character, but he had not become cognizant of this aspect of himself.  How many times has this happened to you?

President Thomas S. Monson, a previous leader of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints, was quoted as saying, “Decisions Do Determine Destiny” [emphasis in original]. Likewise, James Allen maintains, “… Man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.”  Think of how vital thought is to the grand scheme of a person, and you will find the power to be and do anything!  “Man is always the master, even in his weakest and most abandoned state … [as a conscious master] man can only thus become by discovering within himself the laws of thought; which discovery is totally a matter of application, self-analysis, and experience.”  Doesn’t this assertion fill you with the hope that the chains of bondage in your mind are only there until you allow yourself to change how you think?

LaughterHow did I finally kick the cigarette habit, so the mental addiction could no longer tempt me to smoke; I change my thinking.  Instead of allowing myself to find second-hand smoke delightful, I began seeing it as something to avoid.  As I changed my thinking, my body stopped reacting in a manner to claim a need for the cigarettes.  It was not easy, but I had physically quit smoking 10-years before my mental processes, and mental addictions were finally conquered.  The power to correct my body’s behavior towards cigarettes was always mine to claim and apply, but first, I had to change how I think about cigarettes, then my mental needs changed, and then I was free of the mental addiction.  Changing thoughts and time, experience, was required, and slowly my body obeyed.

I have seen the same occur in reverse.  A female friend of mine claims she needs chocolate during her menstrual cycle to maintain mental health.  When she discovered that chocolate was the main factor in her deteriorating health and obesity, she still maintained that chocolate was healthy and blamed everything but chocolate for the problems.  When she went through menopause, she discovered that chocolate had no power over her body and was left without her mental crutch and excuses.  What could have been a life-altering discovery did not change behavior because the thoughts never changed.  I moved and lost contact before her story ended, but the failure to change thinking has always left me wondering what thoughts I need to change to avoid a similar fate.

Bait & SwitchThe New Testament records, “He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”  To which James Allen has added, “… for only by patience, practice, and ceaseless importunity can a man enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge.”  I remember reading about a famous diamond mine in Africa, the largest diamond mine in the world, and how even with technology, the mining process continues to be one of patiently gathering, carefully digging, and unending repetition to haul diamonds from the dirt.  In L. Ron Hubbard’s book, “Battlefield Earth,” one finds the same pattern in digging for gold.  Patience, careful gathering, unending repetition, and still the results are teaspoons of gold for the tons of rock and dirt shifted.

The mind is the same.  Changing thoughts requires time, patience with yourself, and care in selecting new thoughts to plant.  Care in how old thoughts are removed so as not to damage those thoughts being cultivated, and unending repetition to remove the seeds of thoughts that would be the weeds in your mental garden.  But, with the pattern comes the promise; those who put forward the work will reap a garden of benefits.  What are those benefits of changing our thoughts, “As a being of power, intelligence, and love, [being the] lord [and master] of his thoughts, a man holds the key to every situation and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he can make himself what he wills.”

Knowledge Check!What benefit could be grander, to will something into existence through the power of thought!  How amazing a world we could make when all people realize this power and claim this power by changing how we think.  There is a benefit to cause and effect; that benefit is realization, wisdom, and eventually power to will into being that which is powered by our thoughts. So choose to consider changing how you think and watch how the world shifts around you.  You can change yourself by changing your thinking!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.