The Wisdom House by Rob Parsons
Inspired by the birth of a grandson, Parsons shares some of the wisdom he's picked up down the years, from his own experiences and that of others he's met
The Wisdom House
by Rob Parsons
Hodder & Stoughton £12.99
ISBN : 978-1-444-74568-9
Reviewed by David Stuckey
"I’m gonna sit right down and write my grandson a letter …”
That’s probably what Rob Parsons was humming to himself when he got the idea for this sweet, insightful book full of truths and tips for his offspring’s future life.
He imagined the young child sitting in one of two armchairs in his study while he occupied the other to conduct a heart-to-heart on life’s pleasures and obstacles.
“Life is definitely not always fair”, he suggests as he climbs a typical family tree to explain the twists and turns that life can take – and if there is one recurring theme it is “keep on keeping on”. Just because life isn't fair now and then, don’t give up on your dreams.
He recalls the story of John Stephen Akhwari, the Tanzanian runner who fell partway through the marathon at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, yet despite a dislocated knee and a shoulder injury he opted to continue and finish the race.
He came in more than an hour after the field, even after the closing ceremony – yet those who stayed witnessed him fulfil his mission and gave him a deserved ovation. Why did he do it? “My country did not send me five thousand miles to Mexico City to start the race,” he said. “They sent me five thousand miles to finish it.”
Succeeding against all the odds … most folk can find a familiar thread in that phrase. Rob recalls the thrill he felt on first hearing the story of David and Goliath at Sunday School and shares his school report with us. His headmaster suggested the young Rob had ‘little ability’. What he was to discover was that ‘little ability’ can grow and develop, especially when we find something that captures our hearts and our imagination. That can change everything (and I can vouch for that. My scholastic journey was equally undistinguished!).
So what came into my mind reading Rob’s book was God’s good grace in mapping out a particular and unique path for our lives – each of us. And we all have unique gifts that can confound those who don’t understand our potential.
When others pour cold water on your dreams he adds, remember movie mogul Darryl Zanuck predicted that television would never catch on - “people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night” - or recall that a Decca record executive said of The Beatles “we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
As Rob explains “If the two thieves of joy are a hankering after a perfect past and a yearning for a change of some kind in the future, what have they stolen from us? They steal our only opportunity to find fulfilment, happiness and peace – they steal today.”
And he adds “Somebody put it like this – Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift – that’s why we call it the present”.
And it’s the only ‘present’ we have so make the most of it – with his guidance.
David Stuckey is a journalist and member of Maghull Baptist Church