It was dark other than the glow of our sweet ninja turtle nightlight.
Nothing quite like having the protective glow of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Rafael on your ceiling all night. I was all wrapped up in the covers of my G.I. Joe blanket and had at least two or three stuffed animals on the bed with me.
My brothers and I were giggling and laughing as my dad told us another funny story that he would make up on the fly about the adventures of Stinky and Loco.
Loco always had a knack for breaking things, like diving boards, and Stinky, well, I’m sure your imagination can let you in on the details of his noble exploits.
My brothers and I loved those stories.
I can’t really remember many of the details of the stories, but I do remember laughing a whole lot with my brothers and I remember the sound of my father’s storytelling voice as he took us through adventure after adventure, night after night.
This memory came flooding to my mind as I recently read a general conference talk from the Saturday afternoon session on October 2, 1971 from A. Theodore Tuttle, entitled, “The Things That Matter Most.”
The talk had such a profound effect on me that I just had to write about it.
He starts the talk by referencing an editorial in the Deseret News entitled “The Mechanical Rabbit” that he had read a few years earlier.
Quoting the editorial, he said, ““Most of our readers must have smiled the other day when they read of the greyhounds in Britain who don’t know a rabbit when they see one. So long had they chased a mechanical rabbit around the racetrack, that when a real rabbit bounded across the track, the dogs didn’t give it a second look.
“Stupid, eh? But sad too, this perverting of the natural instincts. …
“We chase mechanical rabbits, too.
“We chase paychecks, and don’t give a second look to the glint of the rising sun on a snow-topped peak.
“We chase our way through the appointments of a crowded desk calendar, and fail to take time to chat with the next-door neighbor or to drop in on a sick friend.
“We chase social pleasures on a glittering noisy treadmill—and ignore the privilege of a quiet hour telling bedtime stories to an innocent-eyed child…
“Race on, you poor, blind over-civilized hounds. You’ll never catch your rabbit until you learn to recognize a genuine one.
“But, you’ll have company in your race; the company of unnumbered men who’ll never catch the joy they chase until they, too, learn to recognize a genuine one.”
I loved the analogy of the greyhounds chasing a mechanical rabbit that they will never catch and not giving a second’s thought about a real rabbit that was right in front of them. It conveys so much.
When he talked about ignoring “the privilege of a quiet hour telling bedtime stories to an innocent-eyed child” my heart was pierced.
I was taken back to the many nights I remembered my dad telling us those crazy stories that we all loved. I remembered reading the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and other books with my mom.
I don’t know about you, but nighttime, or I guess I should say bedtime, is the most difficult time of day for me. I really struggle once the clock approaches 9:00 pm. I get up around 4 AM each morning to get in my workout, to spend time seeking the Lord in scripture study, prayer, and meditation, and to work on things for my business before I go into work.
It is extremely effective and sacred time that I have to accomplish a lot of important things all while my wife and kids are still sleeping. However, it also makes the evenings extremely difficult for me.
Right now, if I had the chance to pick any superhero power that I wanted, I wouldn’t pick the popular power of flying or super strength or teleportation or anything like that. No. Those don’t hold a candle to the amazing joy that would come to our home and my life if I could simply snap my fingers and have whomever I wanted to fall asleep, fall into instant and deep sleep.
Oh, how wonderful such a power would be. I can always dream, right?
So, needless to say, the nighttime isn’t my best and I clearly miss far too many sacred opportunities to show love, to build fond memories, to teach, to laugh so hard with my boys that tears well up in my eyes and my sides hurt. I love that he used the word “privilege,” because it is a privilege.
It isn’t an “I have to.” It is an “I get to.”
So, I quickly followed the example of the early apostles and looked inward. I asked myself “Lord, is it I?”
Immediately, answers came. I saw different real rabbits in my life that were running by and I was giving no heed to, because I was so focused on the mechanical rabbit.
I looked at my oldest son that just turned 13 last month and realized that we only have five more summers with him before he goes off on his mission and then goes to college and begins his own life and family. That is only five more summer vacations.
I remembered earlier in the day when my 6-year-old asked me to go into the garage and to do his workout with him, but I told him that I couldn’t because I had work to do. I could have closed the computer and spent that precious one-on-one time with him. The work would have waited. However, that moment with little Brock won’t come back.
I remembered something Cheyenne’s grandmother said to us about her husband a few years before he passed. She said that he would leave the TV on a lot of the time because of how much he missed the noise in the house. He missed the noise that the kids would make all day long. It was now far too quiet and empty. He said that he would give anything to go back and have just one day with all of the kids at home. He said that he would give everything to go back to even the worst day, when there was complete chaos and the kids were sick.
So, as we are naturally inclined to set goals at the beginning of this New Year, I would ask you to look inward as well. To ask yourself if you are chasing any mechanical rabbits and if you are running past any real rabbits right in front of you.
“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”
-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
So, last night I went into my boys’ room and told them that I had a story for them about Stinky and Loco. They laughed. Slowly the older boys snuck in one by one and took a spot on the floor. It was a very irreverent, but truly sacred experience that I will not soon forget. To hear my little Brock giggle uncontrollably and to hear even the older boys laugh and then to plead for a second story when it was over was way better than an extra 20 minutes of sleep.
The real rabbit was caught last night as I stopped chasing the mechanical one. I invite you to catch one too.
Dedicated to your success,