As I told you before, I’ve made it a point to spend a few moments every day sitting back and paying attention. I recommend it strongly. Just after Christmas, I received the following letter from RS, a longtime ETR reader and a copywriting student of mine, with a reminder of the lesson we learned in Message #223 (“What to Do With 1,000 Marbles”).
“Over the past year and a half, you’ve given me a lot to think about with Early to Rise. Especially important were your writings on the 1,000 marbles, on getting life’s priorities in order, and on getting off our asses. “I’d like to give something back to you with this letter. “If you recall, I’ve been helping my oldest brother market his stock-market newsletter using copywriting techniques you taught me.
A while back, my brother took over the newsletter completely when his business partner became president of a college and got out of the business. “On Monday, December 17, I talked with my brother and we came up with a marketing strategy for the new year. I was writing copy for a new website for him, and we agreed to split all business profits 50/50. My brother was on an incredible roll and had picked 15 profitable stocks in a row.
Of course, my brother was a stock-market expert and had been doing this for 20 years. “When I spoke to my brother on that Monday, he said that he had not been feeling well and that the doctor had him on antibiotics. By Thursday, December 20, he was hospitalized. Friday, he had emergency brain surgery to remove a tumor that had been discovered. “My brother never woke up.
On Christmas Eve, I was told that there was massive rupturing in his brain and all hope was lost. “On Christmas Day, the family gathered and we raised our wineglasses, cried, and toasted my brother and his impending journey. “My brother had a very distinguished career. Heavily involved in politics and government, he worked for and met U.S. presidents and senators, was deputy director for the city of Los Angeles for over a decade, was president of an institution devoted to returning the government to the principles of America’s founding fathers, was in heavy combat as a platoon sergeant during the Vietnam War, was a published author, and loved studying and writing about the stock market.
“But most importantly, he was a loving father of two boys and a devoted husband. And he was the most honest, decent, kind man I’ve ever known. “Perhaps you can remind your readers of the 1,000 marbles and of life’s priorities — and tell them to get off their asses in the upcoming year. “My brother died yesterday, at age 54.” Like RS’s brother, my mother also died too young.
Sometime before her death, she wrote each of her eight soon-to-be-grieving children a letter, talking about her illness (ALS) and inevitable death, trying to comfort us, and providing us with bits of advice. We each received a single sentence — a simple but perfect and precious heirloom we could take with us. For me, Mom’s advice was simple and prophetic: “Work at least as hard at savoring life as you do at spending its sacred moments.”
[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]