Heroes Of The Desk

Last week, I read this great post at Faith Promoting Rumor about how one person organized a desk to optimize its practical and inspirational values as an aid to scripture study.  It made me realize that my own work area is hardly conducive to maximized effectiveness in anything. 

So I moved the computer screen off to the side to give me more room in front of me, added a bookend on the far side to hold the books I’m currently reading, and where a messy pile of scratch paper had been before is now a row of the binders I frequently use: my church binder foremost, as well as my Chinese study binder, my family history binder, my goal tracking binder, and my school materials binder. 

My favorite addition has been the display of several small pictures.  Where the post linked to above favored just three role models of gospel study, since my work area serves to meet all my areas of interest and responsibility, I put up pictures of people who inspire me in multiple areas.  These aren’t just people I look up to, but people I hope to emulate in some way.  (The closest I’ve come to this in the past is when I put a picture of my family on my steering wheel, so I can always have a reminder in front of me of what’s important, though I’ve told some it’s so that, in case I’m in a horrific car crash, I can kiss them goodbye one last time as my head slams into the steering column…)

This is still a work in progress, but tells me a lot about myself.  I have 15 pictures up now, from left to right:

  1. Thomas Jefferson: America’s Renaissance man–gifted author, libertarian leader, musician, naturalist, bookworm, etc.  I’ve been inspired by occasionally dipping into the Portable Thomas Jefferson, and when I was in Washington D.C. six years ago, the Jefferson Memorial was my favorite landmark. 
  2. Bruce Lee: another renaissance man–besides being a breathtaking martial artist, he was a groundbreaking fitness entusiast, a ballroom dancing champion, an entrepreneur, a provocative author and talented sketch artist, as well as a philosophy major at UCLA.  Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is one of my favorite movies. 
  3. Hugh Nibley, whose profound enthusiasm for teaching, study, research, cultural criticism, classicism, languages, and unwavering loyalty has strongly influenced me in those directions as well.
  4. Bruce R. McConkie, doctrinal student extraordinaire.  McConkie bashing on blogs gets on my nerves, as he was such an undeniably serious, devoted disciple of the Lord, who put his erudition to the best possible use: serving God and helping others do the same.  I’ve written about this extensively before
  5. Lance Armstrong: I loved cycling when I was younger, and desperately want to get into it again.  Not only is this guy the paragon of cycling, but his endurance–physical and emotional (he beat cancer)–is legendary. 
  6. Jesus Christ.  Duh
  7. Ronald Reagan: His “A Time For Choosing” speech in 1964 is still the best articulation of conservative principles ever.  The Great Communicator’s skill at motivating America with humor, enthusiasm, and patriotism is lovingly enshrined in memories of my childhood.
  8. Mark Steyn: The best essayist in the world today, his wit, grasp of the world’s politics, and keen stockpile of cultural references over the last hundred years makes his prose a tour de force, a joy to be reckoned with.
  9. Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire; I wanted a teacher I could relate to up there, and Esquith’s standards, energy, and focus on the classics, even when I don’t do exactly what he does, still inspire me to pour on the passion. 
  10. James Joyce, my favorite author.  He embodies my love of whimsical prose, art, and all things Celtic. 
  11. All 16 presidents of the LDS Church, from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson: how could I choose?  Do I display Joseph Smith for his realistic example of consecrated discipleship?  Spencer W. Kimball for his life of humble service?  David O. McKay as the zenith of living life to the fullest with the gospel?  So in they all go.
  12. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Boy Scouts.  I need to get outdoors more often and build more practical skills.  I love the Scouting organization, and am grateful to be involved in it, as a parent of a Cub Scout and as a leader in our Boy Scout troop. 
  13. John Swartzwelder, reclusive libertarian author of more episodes of The Simpsons than anybody else (three seasons’ worth).  A master of ironic humor and outdated references (most good Mr. Burns episodes are his), he also penned such timeless satires as “Homer’s Enemy,” “Bart’s Comet,” “The Day The Violence Died,” and “Homer Vs. The Eighteenth Amendment.”  He hasn’t written for the show for years, since he’s been focusing on writing novels…one of many reasons why the show isn’t funny anymore.
  14. Anthony Daniels, tied with Steyn for title of world’s best living essayist.  A gifted wordsmith of unparalleled insight into current affairs, he writes under the pen name Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal, among other places. 
  15. Neal A. Maxwell.  Touching discipleship + (scholarship x alliteration) = a devout role model

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