When Tee and I were newlyweds there were two dear old family friends by the name of John and Vivian Heim who helped us get our start in life. We were both seniors in college at the time and it was John and Vivian who introduced us to the right people who provided us with good jobs that sustained us through those early days. But we were not the only young couple who were recipients of their benevolence. There were others – probably many I’m not even aware of. Among them were my older brother and his wife who John and Vivian also helped through their first year or so of marriage.John Heim was a man who had risen through the ranks of the Texas Highway Department where he had become a highly respected executive. When he finally retired I had the privilege of attending his retirement party. It was during that celebration that he was presented with the customary gold watch and was then asked to say something about his distinguished career. I’ll never forget his first words: “I’ve always had a rule of life,” he began. . . .
. . . . Now this may seem odd, but beyond those words I don’t recall another single thing he said. In particular I don’t have a clue what he said about his “rule of life”. What I do remember vividly, though, is that he had one, and that has made a lifelong impression on me. So what is a rule of life anyway? For years I have reflected on that. What it seems to mean is to live one’s life according to a certain creed, with a sense of purpose, and by a defined code of conduct. It is that rule of life that gets us up in the morning and sends us out each day on a mission. It defines who we are and gives significance to our lives. Without a rule of life we simply react. With it, though, we become motivated. We have clarity as to why we were put upon this earth.
Sometimes I’m still curious about John Heim’s rule of life, whatever it was he said that failed to make it from my ears into my memory. I suspect, though, it had something to do with helping others, as he did with us as well as many other young couples who were getting started in life. But then, I’ll never know for sure. What I do know is that he had a “rule of life”, a creed he lived by – and that inspired me that I should have one too.