February 9, 1915
The quality of a human being is determined by his wants, or rather by the manner in which he satisfies them. As man grows in the scale of intelligence his desires become more numerous and more complex. Perhaps it would be more nearly correct to say that as man learns more perfectly to satisfy his desires he advances toward higher levels of intelligence. “Man is that he might have joy”. I can conceive of no greater misery than that caused by the consciousness of inability to do what one wishes to do. Therefore, happiness must be the consciousness of power to do all one wants to do. One grows in power through experience. I take it that experience is attrition with phenomena, where by one is led to form soul correspondences with the realities of the universe. Man receives experiences by reason of the fact that he is constantly impelled to activity in seeking to satisfy physical and spiritual wants. One must appreciate the fact, then, that man’s appetites and innate desires, rather than being the particular curses of this mortal sphere, are God’s greatest gifts to him, for by them he is stimulated to work, which bring him salvation.
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According to the theology taught by Joseph Smith man is the offspring of Deity and possesses the possibility of becoming like his Heavenly Father. He must possess, then in embryo every faculty and power which exist perfection in the Father’s character. The process of becoming perfect as our Father in Heaven is proper cultivation of your faculties. Man’s powers increase and expand as he rightly exercises them. I maintain that such exercise of faculties is received through the activities caused by our efforts to legitimately satisfy our desires. I believe that primitive man, untrammeled by the ways of civilization, living by necessity close to nature, is impelled by his natural wants to that activity which furnishes his attributes with just such growth as will keep him properly balanced; that is, that will keep him human, manifesting such attitudes toward himself and toward others and toward life in general as it is proper for him in his, particular stage of development to possess. I believe that we farmers and ranchers out here are living fairly normal lives. We are doing the works which by nature human beings are fitted for. Our work, dealing as it does with the energies and forces of life and leading us into close communion with life and living, growing things of such a character as to provide exercise for our every faculty. And unless we deaden our sensibilities by exposing ourselves to the diseases of civilization, to such an extent that we can no longer respond to the glorious stimulation of our natural work and surroundings, we cannot fail to find that that which is noblest and best in us has unconsciously even, been aroused and exalted to more prominence in our character by our pursuits and the very atmosphere we move in. Since our work supplies to a great degree the needs of our growing characters, our wants are all more or less satisfied by it. Such wants and desires we might be possessed of which are not satisfied by our daily vocations are very few and simple. These are nearly fully supplied by our religious activities. They could be amply supplied by encouraging still more this spirit of true sociability amongst us. Our wants being thus normally supplied, we are in general a contented and happy people, free from the craze for the intoxication of morbid excitement which people, who live the artificial live enforced upon them by our modern society and civilization, more or less afflicted with.
February 13, 1911
I was born on Sunday, March the twentieth, 1892, weighed 13 pounds, masculine gender, for which I am everlastingly glad, my grandmother not with stand. I began my earthlife at Vernon, Tooele County, Utah, but I don’t remember much about it, so I’ll quote from the Ward Book.
On May fifth, 1892, I was blessed by my father, and given the name Glynn S. Bennion, and that is about all the title I’ve got.
Baptized June the seventh, 1900, by Elder Walter Durrant.
Ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and to the office of a deacon September the eleventh, 1904, by Pres. H. S. Gowans. On that day I started for Vernal, to go to school. I was ordained to the office of Teacher April twenty-second, 1906 by my father. Ordained to the office of priest August fifth, 1906 by Elder E…l Pehrson.
That is as far as the Ward Record has got with my doings; there are several things left for them to write the dates about. Principally the word “Died.” In that book the life of the ordinary individual isn’t very long – only about four feet.
The very first thing I remember was a ducking my father gave me when I was two years old, to stop me from crying. It did. Infact, the only things I do remember in those first few years were whippings and scolding I got for doing mean things. And I can truthfully say that it didn’t do me any harm, but I’m not very sure whether it did any good. At the age of four, we moved to our present home, Ben Lomond, seven miles south of Vernon. From there on I began to have a better, fun time, but still I cannot remember many joys of childhood which the poets talk about. The reason, I believe, for not having the supreme happiness for which I always sought so ferociously, was because I couldn’t appreciate the natural beauties around me. Happiness comes through obeying the laws which govern it. To break those laws causes misery, and that is mainly what I got, with just enough of the joys to make me keep on the apparently vain struggle for happiness. In those days I had but one ambition, a sort of tantalizing and consuming one: to grow and be a man, respected on account of physical and mental strength.
At the age of four, then, I began to learn to read and at the age of six could do so pretty well. At that time we used to move down to Vernon in the winter, so I started to school at seven, in the first grade. I continued till I was ten, at that time being in the sixth grade. Then we had stopped moving back and forth, or rather two years before, and lived entirely at Ben Lomond. So I studied at home a little. When I was twelve, I went out to Vernal and entered the district school as an eighth grade student. While there must say that I had the miserablest time in my life so far. I was sick most of the time, did nothing at all creditable, and it isn’t my fault that I didn’t learn a lot of bad habits. It is most humiliating to live on your relatives. Infact, I was too young to be away from home. I was editor of the class paper, and graduated one, but it wasn’t my fault. The only part of the whole sojourn that I liked was the trip home. I started again to school 1906 at the L.D.S. Howard and I batched it the first winter at 257 West 3rd North, and had a most miserable time. On Saturdays I worked at the Peoples Cash Store, and Howard at West’s head order House. The next year Heber and Howard and I batched it at 128 South 10th East, and had a most miserable time. I was sick nearly all the time. Then Howard went to West Point and I stayed the rest of the year with the Wooley’s and ___ Allisters, and had a pretty good time, although I was rather foolish. The next year Kenneth and I batched at 124 Canyon Rd. We certainly had a most miserable time. Both of us were sick nearly all the time. Kenneth had to come home in March. In 1908-10, I had a better time, boarding first at Aunt Maria’s. Then Kenneth got sick and had to go home, so went and boarded at 180 O Street with Willard Malstom. Graduated from the L.D.S. and captured first scholarship. When I look back on the acquaintances That I made there, and the old sights; fills me with joy, but the memory of the things I did there, also foolish and even silly, gives me grief and infinite compunctions.
As I said before, I began to read the at the age of four. At the age of 8 I read considerable of Shakespeare, although I didn’t understand it very well. When I was nine, Kenneth and I herded a small bunch of sheep up on the Lion hill, and while doing that I read Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.” From then on I read all the books I could reasonably get hold of. When I was quite young, I used to think out and ponder over many weighty problems, some of them I haven’t solved yet. They were related to theology, science, philosophy, and evolution mainly. And so when I’d go to Sunday School and hear the “kid talk” of the teachers, and other trash they teach little children, I was disquieted. I believe it had a bad effect on me, too. It made me to severely critical of public speakers, a little critical, and even a trifle skeptical.
When I was little, I was always afraid of everything. Perhaps that is the reason why I have no deformities of body—no bones broken, all sound. I would always run away form a rattlesnake and get someone else to kill it. Then I killed one, and from that small beginning, I began to be a little brave. Once I killed a porcupine with rocks and shot a lynx. When I was ten years old, the Burns and Taylor outfit got a snow slide in Oak brush Canyon on March the fourth. That gave me my first sight of blood, suffering, and death. May I never see it again! That reminds me that at about that time the mines in the country had a boom, and so I used to do considerable packing and mail carrying. I met up with many different characters, enjoyed their company and talk and thought I was having a fine time. I didn’t know how bad that kind of men were, then, so I thought they were all right.
Two years, the summers in between schooling, I worked for Bro. Jorgensen, and had summer worked for Nels Jorgensen. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t was to work for other people.
This last winter I have been at home, cutting wood and cedar posts, digging post holes, and various other work to keep up steam, enthusiasm, and ambitions. I want to e a successful, scientific dry farmer. I haven’t much property—a saddle, a rifle and scabbard, a shot gun, a scrub colt, and two fine cows. But if all goes well, I’m going to be wealthy some day.
The winter has so far been mild, but we have had lots of moisture. Today it is fiercer: a heavy snowstorm and stiff south wind. It will be hard on the cattle. Here begins my record.
February 14, 1911
One foot of snow from the north Nuley Spot, Nroose, and Teenie came home from the Watt Pass. Cold nights—12 below. We grease the harnesses and to other chores. Poor John dies.
“The Valley of the Moon”
February 17, 1915
Pray pardon this impertinence. (I haven’t have the right to). I wanted to write because the winter is most gone now and the season of work will be upon us in a few days. Then we’ll be so infernally rushed that I’d have to bring your books back without the pleasure of writing about them. And the only writing materials I possess over here in this “Valley of Silence” is one of Pa’s discarded tithing ledgers and a beastly indelible pencil – about two inches long. I’m sorry I’m so poor.
I’ve been leading a rather lazy, aimless life this winter, tending camp for Lowell and Kenneth, cutting posts and hauling wood, and reading such things as the occasion demanded or as the spirit moved,--mostly novels. Theology comes in for a little study because I am Home missionary this year. Jean and I have greatly enjoyed your books. I’ve been particularly interested in the two English novels, “Alice-for Short” and “The Children of the Mist,” partly, perhaps, because of opinions I had already formed in Vancouver regarding the peculiarities of Englishmen. To my notion Philpotts is the stronger of the two stories, and I found in it the characteristic gloomy philosophy of life I had so much strife with while in B.C. Contact with such ideas of man’s place in nature is horribly depressing, but I like the gloomy realism of English intellectuals better than the sweet optimism of such American writers as Marden, Trine, or William George Jordan. This is my explanation of the state of mind of Clement Hicks. Philpott’s atheist, which is a mental condition characteristic of most of the thinking Englishmen I’ve met: --
For many generations the English have been a believing people, and under the discipline of their faith in God achieved hitherto unattempted standards of morality. These standards of honor have come as an inborn heritage to the modern Englishman, who, however, because of his intellectual pursuits has lost faith in the theology of his fathers. It’s the rule, though, that a man’s manner of life be consistent with the system of thought he has adopted to explain his relation to the rest of the universe. Therefore, the life of the modern Englishman is inconsistent because he is infidel and yet is possessed by a morality produced by faith. Life is therefore empty of anything for him. It seems to me that one of two things is inevitable—either English morality will accommodate itself to their atheism and they lose their racial virility, or they will evolve a theology which will so modify their philosophy of life that their inherent ideals of manhood and their faith and their science will frustrate a harmony . I suppose Amicans are just as irreligious as the English, if not more so, but this is a new country ;and we’re all too busy exploiting it to have time to be introspective: thus we escape morbid brooding.
I always receive much enjoyment and inspiration when I visit at your house. While I am there, though, I am always so absolutely dispossessed of my faculties that my mind is in a state of utter chaos. And yet all that I see and hear vividly impresses itself upon my memory and furnishes material for much profitable remuneration out here in my cabin. By the way, spring is coming! I’ve staked my homestead on a gasoline engine and Plowing outfit, and if plans materialize, will be tearing the sage next month. This country hasn’t the conventional beauty of artificial landscapes,-- it’s the beauty of rich, red soil, boundless fertility, sagebrush and bunch grass, and cedar hills. It’s beautiful to me because it satisfies my wants—and my horses. If fairly throbs with life and optimism now. It seems to be that this is the time I’ve been waiting for for nearly twenty-three years.
It has been a while...
3 weeks ago