Tuesday, January 3, 2012

One man's optimism

Stanley W. Martin
Unless you lived in York County, Pennsylvania during the mid- to late 20th century you would not know the name of Stanley Martin.  If you lived in the Borough of West York, however,  you could not have missed him.  Stanley was a business owner, a worship leader of his church, a borough council member, and patriarch for a passel of children and grandchildren that continuously populated the West York Area School District for more than 60 years.  He died in 1998 at the age of 82.

Probably most characteristic of Stan (or Pepper, as his mushball buddies called him) was that he was an Optimist.  He was an active member of the service club Optimist International, that performs projects for the benefit of children in their communities.  The Optimist Creed was displayed for years on his dining room wall:

Promise Yourself ...
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

One of his most characteristic responses in good times or in bad was "Well, that's all right."  He had a very deep but softspoken voice, and he was usually tamping the custom blend tobacco in his everpresent pipe when he said those words.  He made it through a lot of troubles over the years, smiling and knowing that it was going to be all right.

The youngest of Stanley's grandkids and great-grandchildren probably don't remember him saying that.  But as the oldest of them, I do.  That picture of him standing in his kitchen with coffee brewing and the dozen Maple Donuts on the table is ingrained in my brain, as are those words.

Near the end of his life, I had the opportunity to speak at his Optimist Club.  As a token of appreciation they gave me my own Optimist Creed on a plaque.  It still hangs in my office, and it serves two purposes.  First, it is inspiring and comforting to read in the times when optimism is hard to achieve oneself, much less to pass on to others.  But second, and perhaps more importantly, every time I read it I think of him.  And I have to smile.


Lynn Marie Caissie said...

Being optimistic is not for the faint of heart!

Thanks for posting The Optimist's Creed. I am going to post it my office.

Julie Poland, certified business coach said...

It can be a challenge some days - but that creed has been so helpful over the years. Seeing it over the desk as a constant reminder and using it when I needed to get my head screwed back on straight!