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"Life: A Great Opportunity"

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation

Irene Parlby, "Life—A Great Opportunity," Canadian Home Journal May 1931: 7, 30. Courtesy of City of Edmonton Archives.

This is a difficult theme for me. Temperamentally I dislike looking backward. I much prefer to "Let the dead past bury its dead." Even as a child I could not forgive Lot's wife for giving up the adventurous road ahead for the sake of satisfying that inquisitive desire to look backwards. There are still many like her, living in the past, bemoaning the good old times, and probably not even as useful to their day and generation in consequences, as the pillar of salt which Lot's wife became.

Looking backward it seems to me that I was always in a hurry to get on with the future. From as far back as I can remember, Life appeared as an exciting and intensely interesting book, in which one must always be eager to turn the page, and peep into the next chapter. The one aggravating feature, that one must perforce pass on, before the story was nearly finished.

There was always consolation in the thought however, that perhaps one's spirit might be allowed to hover around, and watch how this old world continued to work out all the many interesting problems upon which she is engaged at the present time.

There is no doubt that it is a most excellent and salutary exercise for all of us, to take time now and again to review the past; to criticize, analyze, to search out those things which influenced character, which brought happiness, which made life infinitely worth while.

By doing so we might perhaps the better help those younger than ourselves. But then again, we might not be able to do that, because I think if there is one thing which looking back on life teaches us, it is that we can only learn the wisdom of Life, can only develop our philosophy of Life through our own struggles, through our own experiences.

Yes, looking back on Life I refuse most emphatically to take the view of so many of the older people of to-day that past times were better than the present. Life grows wider, more interesting every day, presents greater opportunities for brains, for character, for initiative, for adventure in ways both spiritual and material.

Altogether looking back on life I have found it good. Disappointments of course; discouragements of course; plenty of things in the world one would wish to have the power to change; but the fundamentals of happiness are all there for each of us to seize should we so desire.

"Truth, Beauty, Goodness, the eternal Verities" as L. P. Jack defined them; Life at least gives us the opportunity to seek them, and true happiness comes only in their pursuit.

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