On my desk at school, I have this card, laminated, to remind me often of the choices in my life.
Popcorn led me to discover Tolkien as an author before Hollywood did anything to make the books popular. I am a “baby boomer,” which gives a hint to my age. While attending BYU, I heard a speaker talk about the “Popcorn Theory,” which he had heard from someone else. (My apologies, I don’t remember who shared this, I can’t give credit for the idea.” I googled popcorn theory, but didn’t find this theory.) This was presented in relation to being a successful student. Simply stated, If you have completed all assignments for school that you have been given as far as possible on Saturday afternoon, you reward yourself with something “worth working for.” For the speaker, this was “go to a movie and eat hot, buttered popcorn.” Well, while I like the occasional movie, and popcorn is great (occasionally, but definitely not “movie popcorn”), I LOVE to read, explore library stacks, used book stores, buy books. Substitute a “new/favorite/recycled/library/ebook” for “popcorn” and you have my formula for success as a university student.
One day, during my junior year, I bumped into a friend who had lived near me earlier in my college experience. As we walked across campus, she mentioned a new book she had gotten from the campus bookstore. “It’s about little people in Middle Earth known as hobbits. They are short, live in wonderful designed homes that are holes in the ground, have hairy toes, and love to eat.” She continued to talk about The Hobbit, and how much she was enjoying the story. At that point, I remembered (yes, remembered) the popcorn theory, and the studying necessary that week for my classes. Time to conduct an unscientific experiment in the application of the theory. I stopped at the bookstore that day, and took a copy home, placed it where I would see it, and studied the rest of the week so I could open that book.
This post isn’t about studying, directly, just the background into my love of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Reading the Hobbit led to Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King. My copies went with us when, as newlyweds, we moved to the Pacific Northwest, carrying all our “worldly goods” in a Dodge D500 that required one quart of oil with each tank of gas. I reread those books, and, as time went on, “hooked” our oldest daughter. She read the copies enough that I gifted her with the worn copies and bought a new set. Those went to a son, who also loved them, and I now have my third set (in paper), and the ebooks.
The quote above, however, is one that has had great meaning to me. It has become more meaningful as I watch the increasing darkness of the world around me. Life has, for me, as for all, given me more “dark moments” than I had experienced that sunny day in Provo, Utah when I was introduced to Bilbo, Gandalf, and later, Frodo. But the meaning of this exchange continues.
“The Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien, Chapter 2)
So, what to do with the time given me?
1. Time is a construct of man. We use it to make sense of our world, to place events into a perspective, to measure limitations for successful completion of a task, be it baking cookies or building a magnificient building, a baby sleeping through the night, or the time required for Voyager to leave the solar system. But each of us has within us a spirit that is eternal, outside of time, and that means I will continue to live, forever. The fact that my experience in time is limited becomes more important, because this is my only opportunity to decide and do those things that will influence my “forever,”
2. The most important possession I have in time is my family. I love each and every one of them, even those I only read about in our electronic family letter (currently go to about 130 families). We are bound by common ancestors. Those I know well are dear to my heart. I think of them, I pray for them, I talk/email with them, and when possible, I visit them. Some are as close as “down the street and up the hill,” while others are walking the streets of New Zealand, in the military installation of Kandahar, in Africa, and other areas of service throughout the world.
3. I can’t imagine eternity without my family.
4. I am blessed, beyond measure, to blessed to have been taught the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Member ship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) is 15 million, a mere drop in the bucket of 7.2 billion. Because of that, I am blessed with the opportunity and blessing of having my marriage sealed for time and all eternity in a House of the Lord. (Learn more here. about temples and their purpose)
5. Though the world is darkening, I see light, constantly, because of my faith. In fact, He said, “I am the Light of the world…” (Click here for a video and more information.)
6. I want others to know and experience the joy, the peace, and the confidence I have received by this great gift in my life.
So…the point of this post?
I choose to use my time as an example of Jesus Christ in my actions, to look always for the Light, and to share with others the message we, as members of His church, treasure.
Would you like to know more about…
Where did I come from?
Why bad/hard things happen to good people?
Why am I here?
Where am I going?
What can I do to strengthen my family?
How can I help my spouse, child, friend, neighbor….”
Here are a few links to help you…
All about the “Mormons”
How can I know the truth?
Want to know more? Click “Chat with us” on this page.
Click here to read my testimony of the truths to be found on these links.
The answer Gandalf gave Frodo can be applied by each of us to our lives. Darkness is covering the earth, but the light always breaks through. Sunday did come, and the Savior of the World rose from the tomb, conquering death, and that victory is eternal. Darkness cannot destroy it. Jesus Christ made the ultimate choice and sacrifice, because of love, for each one of us. So the question to be answered, by each of us, is:
What will YOU do with the time that is given you?
P.S. The popcorn theory worked for me in my studies. Twice since receiving my B.S. degree, I have returned to college. I used this each time to help me prioritize and stay focused.