I have the following quote glued into my scriptures as a compliment to 1 Nephi 17:45 which talks about how the people had brought themselves, through their sins, past feeling for the still small voice:
"Many years ago John Burroughs, a naturalist, one summer evening was walking thrugh a crowded park. Above the sounds of city life he heard the song of a bird. He stopped and listened! Those with him had not heard it. He looked around. No one else had noticed it.
It bothered him that everyone should miss something so beautiful. He took a coin from his pocket and flipped it into the air. It struck the pavement with a ring no louder than the song of the bird.
Everyone turned. They could hear that!
It is difficult to separate from all the sounds of city traffic the song of a bird. But you can hear it. You can hear it plainly if you train yourself to listen for it. It is difficult to separate from the confusion of life that quiet voice of inspiration. Unless you attune yourself, you will miss it. "
Elder Boyd K. Packer Conference Report October, 1979
I came upon this quote during my personal scripture study yesterday. It was glued into my scriptures many years ago. I re-read it, thought fondly of the seminary teacher who had introduced me to it, and went on with my day not thinking much of it.
Later that day I had my Visiting Teacher over. We were having a discussion about parenting when Jack went over to the window and started jumping up and down with excitement. He was pointing and giggling and motioning for me to come and see.
My Visiting Teacher tried to figure out what he was so excited about.
"What do you see? A tree? Some birds? The park? What is so exciting?"
I mentioned to her that he usually acted like that when he saw a dog, but I was sure there was no dog out there.
His happiness and desire to share his giddyness continued raising in volume every minute I ignored him and tried to carry on with the conversation my guest and I were having.
Finally, I felt I could hold out no longer. I went to the window to see what the happy fuss was all about. I tried the same thing Mandy had- trying to figure out what he could see out of the finger print covered window pane that would cause such joy.
"The dirt? Do you like those clouds? Is there a friend playing?"
Each of these pathetic guesses was answered with a vigorous shake of the head and even more points and squeals.
Finally, I saw the cause of the glee. In the shadow of a fence a few houses away was the sleeping form of a little dog who was the same gray color of the shaded earth he was resting upon. Barely noticeable to anyone not as enthusiastic about canines.
My little boy has trained himself to find dogs wherever he can. Billboards, magazines, TV shows, movies, parks, yards, wherever. He doesn't miss them. He can hear them, see them, smell them wherever they are. Where the untrained individual might have missed the camoflagued puppy, Jack did not because he is able to tune out distractions and find what brings him joy if it is there.
This might sound like a silly analogy, but the words of that quote rang in my ears as I thought about how easy it is for my one year old to seek out and find what makes him happy. I can do that too. I can train myself to tune out the distractions and be more perceptive to the Spirit and the promtings He has for me. I can be more aggressive in my efforts to seek out and FIND joy in this sphere of life- diapers, tantrums, dishes and all.
My happiness is completely at my disposal. What I choose to do with it is on me. It is my responsibility to find the metaphorical puppies in my life and to choose to let them make me happy. I truly believe there is inspiration to be found all around us if we are ready to recognize it, interperet it, and then use it!