The More Important Things

Most of Cabot Yerxa’s writings comprise his recountings in journals, letters, and newspaper articles about his life and the lives of people he encountered. But a person with his flair for narrative and observation surely needed another creative outlet of expression. And so it was that he dabbled in creative writing: poetry, short story, play. The text below, which comes from a typewritten page headed “Scene one, Act three of four-set play,” speaks volumes about the way Cabot viewed relationships.

The principals in casual clothing are comfortably seated and conversing quietly. They are alone. She is speaking.

During these last two years, you and I have filled in the gaps of the long-ago years so that we might have a better understanding of each other’s viewpoints to better visualize the future, so that we can meet every situation without any surprise. Because if each knows all of the other, then there can be great peace.

We have been acquainted 26 years — very great friends for seven years. And during the last two years, we have been filling in the small details of past history not already known to each other.

So at various times, we have discussed my early life; but it will not take long to go over the more important facts so as to bring all of them freshly to mind and so that each of us can view with all fairness the situation as it exists today and the consideration of which involves our future. Because all the futures are built up out of the pasts, and what we humans try to do is to make intelligent use of the past and learn from that the plans to make to improve the future.

We who live life seriously try to make the present — today, this day, these moments — honest and true, so that when this day joins the others behind us and becomes the past, then the future which will in time become a new present will bring a reward for right thinking and right acting.

This is rather a digression from the subject in mind in one way. Yet in another it is entirely in order, because it gives you my mental process by which I try to weigh and decide all things of importance every day — and particularly in this case, because the problem today is not one of figures or business or any tangible thing. What we talk about today involves the subtle, the unmeasurable, the more important things which we in our poverty of language can only give a nebulous heading and call it, perhaps, by the vague name of heart interest.

The association between one man and one woman, in its highest and truest sense, which we again call by a name inadequate of conveying ideas, is called love. And so this word — at this time, and in this situation and during this discussion — refers to the very highest and sweetest and truest quality of the word and not as the average person throws the word around in ordinary use and conversation.

No man or woman having lived 50 or 60 years has done so without having made friends, enemies, and mistakes in judgment or experienced unhappiness or occasionally found memories worthwhile to cherish. The longer we live, the more of life we see, the more people we have known. I think that we reach a state of mind wherein we appreciate more fully those people who have been true and who have been guided by idealism. Because, after all, it is only the ideal, the spiritual values that are worthy of thought and retaining. The gross, the vulgar, the sensual, the materialistic fade and have no value, and they but put a smear in our memory. And so, for true happiness and for progress in this life which will influence the next, we should strive to weigh decisions from a high-grade viewpoint.


If we absorb the wisdom that Cabot Yerxa epitomizes in his appreciation for the human spirit and the value of truth in ourselves and others, then surely we can see that his legacy surpasses that of having discovered and promoted Desert Hot Springs’ hot mineral water, his devotion to honoring Native American culture to the extent that he built by hand an incredible pueblo incorporating used materials, and his desire to inspire an appreciation for the desert environment. As we have entered the holiday season in a year where everything — including annual celebrations — has changed, we should bear in mind that some critical things do not change. Let’s take to heart these words from Cabot’s play: “the future which will in time become a new present will bring a reward for right thinking and right acting.”

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