I hadn’t seen Linda Robinson since we graduated from high school. I had taken her to the Junior Prom. I remember that night well because we almost got caught in a flood in the borrowed car I was driving.
When I spotted her at a family gathering, we were both married and had families. I recognized her immediately. “Linda!” I said as I walked up to her with open arms. She took one look at me and drew back. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I don’t know who you are!”
Well, I had to admit I had gained a few pounds and was sporting a mustache. The last time she had seen me I weighed in at 145 lbs. soaking wet. That was a long time ago. I dated a lot in high school. After all, my senior year I was the student body president. I was a popular guy. I had played football, basketball, baseball and had won at track meets. The only thing I couldn’t do was dance—at least that’s what I thought.
Because I was so self-conscious on the dance floor I was ashamed to dance with the popular girls. Instead, I danced mostly with the “wall flowers.” I figured they were so glad to be asked to dance that it wouldn’t matter to them that I was a total klutz. Now, in the early sixties in the little town where I lived, there being not much else to do in the way of entertainment, most of the adults attended the school dances—even the little old ladies.
I learned one day through the grapevine that I had built quite a reputation among the grey haired group for dancing with ALL the girls, not just the popular ones. Little did they know. To me it had nothing to do with nobility and everything to do with protecting my self esteem.
I have been blessed over the years by being able to return to that little town many times. It harbors some of my fondest memories. One day, as I basked in the sheer pleasure of just being there, it occurred to me that things could have been very different. What if Linda Robinson HAD remembered me? What if she had remembered me for being less than chivalrous, or less than honest, or less than a gentleman? What if my relationships with the young women of the town had been improper? It was one thing to be remembered for dancing with ALL the girls. It would have been quite something else to have been remembered for taking advantage of them.
I’m certainly not proud of everything I have done or failed to do while getting to this point in life. I have made my share of mistakes and have done things for which I am not proud. But I keep trying.
Richard G. Scott said, “You become what you do and what you think about. Lack of character leads one under pressure to satisfy appetite or seek personal gain. You cannot successfully bolster a weak character with the cloak of pretense.”
He went on to say, “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day…Righteous character is more valuable than any material object you own, any knowledge you have gained through study, or any goals you have attained no matter how well lauded by mankind. In the next life your righteous character will be evaluated to assess how well you used the privilege of mortality.” (Ensign Magazine, Nov. 2010, p.43)
Over the years my bonds with the people of that little town have continued to grow. I am so glad that I can go back without regrets.
I think Dallin H. Oaks summed it up when he said, “Conduct your life today so your tomorrows won’t be filled with embarrassment or remorse.”