While growing up in central England, the place where I spent most of my time when I wasn’t at school was a large green public park just a couple of streets over from my home. There, kids could play soccer, rounders (something like softball) or climb a complex structure that resembled a large wooden robot.

At that same park was a very old, but still beautiful bronze sundial that always held a strange fascination for me. Sundials, I know, go back to the time of the early Egyptians and are really mankind’s earliest “clocks” that simply rely on the passage of the sun to tell time.

Near the top of that sundial in the park was an inscription: “Horas Non Numero Nisi Serenas” and despite my three years of high school Latin, I humbly confess I still had to look up a couple of those “dead language” words. But the phrase does translate nicely into “I only count the hours that are happy.”

The sundial’s declaration inscribed with those ancient words speaks truth since a sundial can only record the time when the sun casts a shadow on its long pointer.

In some way, it’s a lot like everything in life we do (or don’t do) that leaves its mark on us and those we come in contact with each day. What we do with our time and our talents is largely in our own hands and it’s certainly worth pausing from time to time making sure our “sundial” is set to record the brightest and most worthwhile things possible and we are at peace.

In my early 20s when I was living in Ohio, one of my closest friends was a guy named Jim Hunter. He was one of those guys who was always fun to be around no matter the circumstances. At that time Jim was a very successful salesman for a manufacturing firm and on back of his business card he had inscribed these words:

Promise yourself –

•To be strong, nothing can disturb your peace of mind;

•To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet;

•To make all your friends feel there is something in them;

•To look at the sunny side of everything;

•To think only the best, work only for the best and expect only the best;

•To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as about your own;

•To forget the mistakes of the past and press on the achievements of the future;

•To wear a cheerful look at all times and give every living creature a smile;

•To give so much time to improving yourself, you have no time to criticize others; and

•To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

I’m quite certain that my old friend Jim never saw that sundial in the park where I played as a child, but undoubtedly he lived out its message.

Mike Fitsko is a retired principal and longtime columnist from New Braunfels.

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