Jack's Insights January 2018

By Jack Whittier, Director, UNL Panhandle Extension District and Panhandle Research and Extension Center

Wow! 2018? How did that happen? I remember as a youngster one of my elementary school teachers told us we would see the turn of the century occur. I was taken back by that; it was still more than 30 years away. Well, that milestone came and went in a hurry, didn’t it. Now as we creep up on another decade, time seems to fly by in the blink of an eye. This just reminds me how important it is to live every day to its fullest.  I hope I do.

Dr. Jack Whittier

The concept of speed of time, and living, and loving each day made me think about an evening Robynn and I spent in our basement during the holidays. In order to relax in front of a warm fire, we pulled two John Wayne VCR movies off the shelf (yes, I said VCRs. That dates me already doesn’t it?).  We had not watched the original 1969 True Grit, or the 1965 Sons of Katie Elder for many years. It was a grand night for me. John is still one of my heroes, and if you ask me, they don’t make movies like that anymore. Oh well, time passes and so does popular entertainment.

So, when I was doing some “uncluttering” in my home office over the holidays, I came across a 3x5 card with a quote by John Wayne I had written on it. The quote seems appropriate as we begin a new year filled with hope and excitement. 

About 10 years ago, Robynn and I spent time in California at the John Wayne Cancer Institute where I received medical treatment. I remember a couple of “John Wayne” moments during our visits there. One was a display with the eyepatch John wore as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. I thought of that display again while watching True Grit the other night. The other memory was a bronze bust of John with an inscription of the quote I wrote on the 3x5 card. The quote is from him during an interview in 1971: 

“There's a lot of things great about life. But I think tomorrow is the most important thing. Comes in to us at midnight very clean, ya know. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”

Now that 2018 is upon us, seems this quote is appropriate to remind us how important it is to live life to the fullest, but also to remember to build on what we have learned in the past. I think that is what we do through Extension here at the Nebraska Panhandle. We take a question or problem from a previous time and move forward to solve and improve on practices that are beneficial to our clients. 

Since I’m reminiscing on great movies, another key quote about using time wisely comes from Professor Harold Hill in the Music Man. You will likely remember the scene where Professor Hill and Marion, Madam Librarian, are discussing the need for ways to keep the young boys in town occupied.  Harold Hill says,

“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you've collected nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering.”

As we begin another year, I remind myself, and all at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center and our Extension Professionals located in Extension offices serving the 16 counties in the Panhandle Extension District, to use each day to the fullest to serve you. As “The People’s University,” we feel it a privilege and a responsibility to learn from yesterday and welcome each perfect tomorrow to make today worth remembering (as John says). 

Have a great month as you welcome 2018 into your lives.