That uncorrupted behaviour which we admire in animals and in young children belongs to him, to the hunter, the sailor,—the man who lives in the presence of Nature. Cities force growth and make men talkative and entertaining, but they make them artificial. What possesses interest for us is the naturel of each, his constitutional excellence. This is forever a surprise, engaging and lovely; we cannot satiated with knowing it, and about it; and it is this which the conversation with Nature cherishes and guards.Ralph Waldo Emerson (September 29, 1858) public speech: “The Man with the Hoe”, later pushed as Farming within Society and Solitude
For the last thirty or fourty years we’ve seen the ascendance of individualism and waning of larger beliefs in religion, and in supports from the community and extended family. That means a loss of resources that can buffer you against setbacks and failures. To the extent you see a failure as something that is lasting and which you magnify to taint everything in your life, you are prone to let a momentary defeat become a lasting source of hopelessness. But if you have a larger perspective, like a belief in God and an afterlife, and you lose your job, it’s just a temporary defeat. Martin Seligman, A Psychologist from The University of Pennsylvania. Quote referenced from Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman.
The Uses Of Sorrow
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift Mary Oliver (2006) Thirst
He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. Friedrich Nietzsche (1886) Beyond Good and Evil
For a long time we find ourselves trying to understand monsters, to give reason to the past. In doing so, without realising it, we become the very same monster. It can take months to notice the monster that reflects in the mirror, slowly forming into our own demons. When we finally choose to unshackle the chains, removed from home, a hope reminds us of who we are. An unexpected face, a beautiful smile; soft hands that wash away the grime, uncovering our heart.
We know that a time will come, when we will return to a place where demons roam. To battle them on our own …
… In hope they don’t consume us again.
Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on–then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me. Those guardians who have kindly taken supervision upon themselves see to it that the overwhelming majority of mankind–among them the entire fair sex–should consider the step to maturity, not only as hard, but as extremely dangerous. First, these guardians make their domestic cattle stupid and carefully prevent the docile creatures from taking a single step without the leading-strings to which they have fastened them. Then they show them the danger that would threaten them if they should try to walk by themselves. Now this danger is really not very great; after stumbling a few times they would, at last, learn to walk. However, examples of such failures intimidate and generally discourage all further attempts.
Thus it is very difficult for the individual to work himself out of the nonage which has become almost second nature to him. He has even grown to like it, and is at first really incapable of using his own understanding because he has never been permitted to try it. Dogmas and formulas, these mechanical tools designed for reasonable use–or rather abuse–of his natural gifts, are the fetters of an everlasting nonage. The man who casts them off would make an uncertain leap over the narrowest ditch, because he is not used to such free movement. That is why there are only a few men who walk firmly, and who have emerged from nonage by cultivating their own minds. Immanuel Kant (1784) Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?
To sit somewhere, and feel more alone than ever before. Staring into the distance. Lost in thought. To feel the first moist droplet form and roll down your cheeks and into your lap. To feel the rest flow, silently, down the same path as the first. Each droplet representing every moment had, every moment felt, and every moment you desire again. To feel sadness that sweeps you away into a place of sorrow. To find yourself still sitting there, alone.