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"Their Yesterdays"


After returning from Germany, I decided to read a book out loud to my siblings. The idea was to practice my enunciation as I knew I'd be doing a lot of public speaking, YouTubing, and in-person interviews due to the direction my life has been taking with writing and politics. But also, I'm always looking for an excuse to read another book ;) 

We started with a modern book that none of my siblings liked. After two chapters, we DNF'd the book and started an older book by one of my favorite authors. 

At the time life had my heart weighed down. I read the first words and my being gasped in delight. This was going to elate my spirt, I knew because it already was. 

There was a man. 
And it happened—as such things often so happen—that this man went back into his day that were gone. Again and again and again he went back. Even as every man, even as you and I, so this man went back into his Yesterdays. 
Then—why then there was a woman. 
And it happened—as such things sometimes so happen—that this woman also went back into her days that were gone. Again and again and again she went back. Even as every woman, even as you and I, so this woman went back into her Yesterdays. So it happened— as such things do happen—that the Yesterdays of this man and the Yesterdays of this woman became Their Yesterdays, and that they went back, then, no more alone, but always together. 
Even as one, they, forever after, went back. 

Thirteen Truly Great Things of Life there are. No life can have less. No life can have more. All of life is in them. No life is without them all. Dreams, Occupation, Knowledge, Ignorance, Religion, Tradition, Temptation, Life, Death, Failure, Success, Love, Memories: these are the Thirteen Truly Great Things of Life. 

It's a beautiful story of a man—we do not know his name, for the author tells us, his name is of no importance to us, nor the details of the man's life, only the man's life is what the author aims to tell us about—who first knows that he is a man and that he has a Dream and that he must pursue it.

It is also a story of a beautiful woman—we do not know her name, for these things are of no consequence, only that we know and see that she is a woman. This woman also has a Dream, but her dream is different from the Dream of the man. Her Dream can't be pursued. 

And the woman who that night knew that she was a woman—the woman whose heart, as she sat alone before the fire, was even as an empty room. There are many doors in the life of these modern days at which a woman may knock with hope of being admitted; and this woman, as she sat alone before her fire that night, paused before them all—all save two. Two doors she saw but did not pause before; and one of them was idleness and pleasure. And one other dorr there is that stands open wide so that there is no need to knock for admittance. Before this wide-open door, the woman paused a long time. It is older than the other doors. It is very, very, old. Since the beginning, it has never been closed, but though it stood open so wide and there was no need to knock for admittance, still the woman could not enter for she was alone. No woman may enter that old, old, open door, alone. 

She could not wait. And while she waited she would knock at one of the other doors. She would knock because she must. The custom of the age, necessity, circumstances, forced her to knock at one of those dorrs that in the life of these modern days, open to women who seek admittance alone. 

I cannot tell just what the circumstances of the woman's life were nor why it was necessary. Nor does it in the least matter that I cannot tell. The necessity, the circumstances, have nothing to do with my story save this: that, whatever they were, I am quite sure they ought not to have been. I am quite sure that any circumstance, nor necessity, or custom, that forces a woman who knows herself to be a woman to seek admittance at any one of those doors through which she must enter alone is not right. 

It is a story of a man and a woman who find the strength to live in their manhood and womanhood by remembering the days of their childhood; specifically, the days when they were a boy and a girl together. Often they wonder what became of the other before they were separated and forced to live alone, he without his cheerleader, and her without her the man she would cheer and follow into any and every adventure if he were but there to lead. 

And so they find their Occupation; they must work. Alone, the two of them must work. But the man remembers when he was a boy and he had nothing to do and his mother gave him something to do. To build a house for the little girl, for that was the Greatest Something any little man could do. 

And the woman, walking through the door she must walk that defamed and mocked her womanhood, remembered her days from before were her greatest Occupation had been to play house with the little boy who was a man in her eyes. 

Through all the Thirteen Truly Great Things of Life, the man, and woman journey separate remembering when they were together in Their Yesterdays. They accept Knowledge, they discover the greater bliss of Ignorance. They find Religion, but grander yet, they explore Tradition and know it's burdens and blessings. 

He saw, now, that the thing most difficult to overcome—the thing that forbade his progress and refused him freedom—was Tradition. On every side, he met this: "It has never been done; it, therefore, can never be done."  The established customs and habits of others fixed the limit of the progress he could make with the approval of the world. 
At first, he had laughed—secure in his own strength, he had laughed contemptuously. But that was because he did not then realize the power of this thing. Later he did not laugh. He became angry with a sullen, hopeless, helpless, rage that accomplished nothing. 
Even in matters of personal habits and taste, the man found that he was not free. 

For what, after all, are Traditions and customs and habits but a going back into the Yesterdays. 

But the thing that most of all wearied the woman, who knew that she was a woman, was this: the restless, discontented, dissatisfied, uneasy, spirit of the age that, scorning Tradition in a shallow, silly pride, struggles for and seems to value only that which is new regardless of the value of the thing itself. 

When Temptation comes, they both nearly give up their Manhood and Womanhood, but when they triumph they are not weaker but stronger because of Temptation. Life is also a blessing, but Death must also come. Failure teaches them that Occupation is not everything. 

Success completes the man's failure. But for the woman:

Of the woman's success, I cannot write here. My story has been poorly told, indeed, if I have not made it clear that, for this woman who knew herself to be a woman, Succes was inseparable from Love.
For every woman who knows herself to be a woman, Love and Success are one.

And then came Love, where the man and woman returned to the place of Their Yesterdays and found that each other, and that they were still the boy and girl, only grown-up. And together, they made Memories.

If I could, I'd quote the whole book here. Especially of the good things that Tradition offers the family and how Temptation gave sweet Victory. But here, I hope to offer the portions that will touch your heart, even as mine was touched, and perhaps you'll even shed tears akin to my own. 

It is a story of a man and woman fighting against the world's standards to embrace their humanity. It is their journey of aloneness toward togetherness. The world mocked them in knowing their virtues and that these virtues were best kept complementing another's. But they did not care, for once together they had a strength too great to be torn down by the world and its debauchery. 

I believe every man who knows himself to be a man (or who wishes to know himself as a man) and every woman who knows herself to be a woman (or wishes to know herself as a woman) should read this book. It will be hard and difficult, especially if you do not know who your spouse may be. It will be hard if you are a man forced to pursue Dreams without a good woman at his side. It will be hard if you are a woman forced to knock at a door other than the old, old, old door that every woman should have the right of walking through, if only she were not alone. 

It will be hard, but it will also be good

It will be the sort of good that shows you who are are and should be. It will remind you of your worth and purpose. And as you journey, maybe it will open your eyes so that you are better able to see just who it is you ought to join paths with. 

Yes, I recommend this book to every man and woman, boy and girl. But only if it is of the good, old things that your heart desires after. 


Have you read any of Harold Bell Wright's Books? His most famous is "Shepherd of the Hills", another great title. Have you read this book? Do you wish to, if you haven't?


Do you know yourself to be a man or a woman? 

Comments

  1. This sounds really amazing! I've never heard of anything like it, and I need to read it ASAP. I just watched the movie version of The Shepherd of the Hills for the first time in July, and enjoyed it, so I'll have to check out more books by this author.

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    Replies
    1. There's a movie for The Shepherd of the Hills!? I had no idea and must go look it up right now ... and yeah, you really should read this book. If only for the prose, it's worth it ;) So crazy, he's a Missouri author but I've found more of his books in Montana than anywhere else.

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