This is one of my “touchstones,” written by A. Cooper Ballentine, or “Bally” to those of us fortunate enough to have known and loved him.
Bally was the owner and director of Camp Kehonka, a co-founder of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and a past-president of the American Camp Association.
I got to know him a bit while working by his side in the silver shop during my summers at Kehonka, America’s oldest summer camp for girls on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH, America’s oldest summer resort.
Bally wrote this months prior to his 90th birthday. Obviously: he was onto something.
Thumbnail Code for a Good Life
1. Life offers opportunities to improve your lot (character, circumstances). You become vulnerable to the extent that you acquire family, friends, possessions…, and that you stand for high principles. You must fortify yourself with such attributes as wisdom, kindness, tolerance, and courage to adjust to, and advance against the hazards of inevitable change. Remember: the atom once was “immutable”, flying was “for the birds”, and the “man in the moon” was not on the moon.
2. To earn essentials for self and dependents becomes such a time-consuming part of life that you should seek a vocation that yields abundant satisfaction, even enjoyment, beyond the monetary rewards. You should acquire also skills most satisfying to you as an avocation so that, when alone, you could be pleasurably occupied.
3. You should become actively familiar with the creative process, and most importantly you should practice it in human relationships. The alternative is a leveling-off and stagnation.
4. In family, community and business life, there are abundant occasions for service, rewarding to the recipients, of course, but especially rewarding to the individual who serves: in expressions of love, in friendships, and in gaining a facility to share or lead.
5. Look and think ahead, prepare early into specifics. Ideas germinate and eventually bloom with a glow that usually depends upon the time you nurture them. Scheduled obligations are best fulfilled by forethought. For a group project, do your homework; don’t go into a session empty-handed.
6. Have faith in the enduring glory of family life – preferable in an unfettered environment for benefits of inspiration, exhilaration and recreation. Place high in your score of mortal values: family, friends, spacious woodlands, unending sky, fresh air and clear water.
7. Choose wisely. In old age, memories become vivid and vital. They could haunt you. Begin early in life to assure that your memories ultimately will delight you.
8. Excellence has no boundaries. Reach toward excellence in everything you say or do.
A. Cooper Ballentine – May, 1983