Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930)“I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one’s weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can’t all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something.”
Question of the day: IS YOUR SOUL APPALLED?
I often receive questions from people who are trying to find their path in life, but don't know which way to turn. ("I'm stuck," is the most familiar expression of this dismaying condition.)
Getting unstuck can be a long process — even a lifelong process — but here is a line of thought I try to offer people, when I see them struggling...it goes something like this:
For reasons that you may never understand, you have been given stewardship over a human soul — which is, of course, your own. This soul was born into YOU — born into your very specific life. Your soul, born into this life, is what my friend Rob Bell calls "a unique event in the history of the universe." There has never been one of you before. Nobody has ever tried the experiment of YOU yet. Nobody has ever tried being this particular soul, lodged in this particular body, born into this particular family, arriving at this particular moment in time, raised in this particular culture, faced with these particular challenges. (And, as Rob also reminds us, that realization alone can be a comforting thought, when you are feeling lost and overwhelmed: NOBODY HAS EVER TRIED THE EXPERIMENT OF YOU YET. Why did you think you were supposed to get it right on the first try? You are a unique event. There is no precedent. There is no operational manual. So show yourself some mercy, if this business of being you seems impossibly tricky at times. You have to figure you out as you go. Sometimes "figuring yourself out as you go" can feel like you're tinkering with the engine of a car, while you are also driving that car down the highway at 70 mile an hour, and while you are also the passenger. Perfect. I think it's supposed to feel like that. It's a strange situation. Have patience with yourself.)
I have been traveling around the country for nearly two weeks on book tour, and without exception, my audiences have been filled with lovely bright people who feel doomed. In New York City they were too sad to be ironic, just devastated, and in the Deep South, where they pet me and give me home baked cookies and pocket crosses, and where I develop an accent, their eyes tear up.
People do not feel "anxious" or "frustrated," or doomed-ish, in a mopey Eeyore kind of way.
They feel cursed, cut down, scared to death, like during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's as if we're all waiting for biopsy results for someone we love. We try to be brave.
No one has a clue how we are going to come through this fever dream. They come to my events because I am usually a cranky optimist who believes that if it seems like a bad ending, it's not the ending. They hope I have found some spiritual, political or psychological tools to cope and transcend.
James Weldon Johnson
O mighty, powerful, dark-dispelling sun,
Now thou art risen, and thy day begun.
How shrink the shrouding mists before thy face,
As up thou spring’st to thy diurnal race!
How darkness chases darkness to the west,
As shades of light on light rise radiant from thy crest!
For thee, great source of strength, emblem of might,
In hours of darkest gloom there is no night.
Thou shinest on though clouds hide thee from sight,
And through each break thou sendest down thy light.
O greater Maker of this Thy great sun,
Give me the strength this one day’s race to run,
Fill me with light, fill me with sun-like strength,
Fill me with joy to rob the day its length.
Light from within, light that will outward shine,
Strength to make strong some weaker heart than mine,
Joy to make glad each soul that feels its touch;
Great Father of the sun, I ask this much.
Originally posted by exceptindreams at Prayer at Sunrise | James Weldon Johnson
by Edmund Vance Cooke
The little it takes to make life bright,
If we open our eyes to get it!
And the trifle which makes it black as night,
If we close our lids and let it!
Behold, as the world goes whirling by,
It is gloomy, or glad, as it fits your eye.
As it fits your eye, and I mean by that
You find what you look for mostly;
You can feed your happiness full and fat,
You can make your miseries ghostly,
Or you can forget every joy you own
By coveting something beyond your zone.
In the storms of life we can fret the eye
Where the guttering mud is drifted,
Or we can look to the world-wide sky
Where the Artist’s scenes are shifted.
Puddles are oceans in miniatures,
Or merely puddles; the choice is yours.
We can strip our niggardly souls so bare
That we haggle a penny between us;
Or we can be rich in a common share
Of the Pleiades and Venus.
You can lift your soul to its outermost look,
Or can keep it packed in a pockebook.
We may follow a phantom the arid miles
To a mountain of cankered treasure,
Or we can find, in a baby’s smiles,
The pulse of a living pleasure.
We may drink of the sea until we burst,
While the trickling spring woud have quenched our thirst.
From Impertinent Poems (Dodge Publishing Company, 1903).
This poem is in the public domain.
Edmund Vance Cooke (1866 - 1932), often referred to as "the poet laureate of childhood," was born in 1866, in Ontario, Canada. He began working at the White Sewing Machine Co. factory as a teenager and stayed there for 14 years, until he became a self-employed poet and lecturer in 1893. His first book of poems, A Patch of Pansies, came out the next year. Edmund was a fine and highly entertaining poet whom many critics consider underrated; he published sixteen collections of poetry during the course of his career, plus many children's books.
Yes, a bit simplistic, but still, I rather like it...
Because the years are few, I must be glad;
Because the silence is so near, I sing;
'Twere ill to quit an inn where I have had
Such bounteous fare, nor pay my reckoning.
I would not, from some gleaming parapet
Of Sirius or Vega, bend my gaze
On a remembered sparkle and regret
That from it thanklessly I went my ways
Up through the starry colonnades, nor found
Violets in any Paradise more blue
Than those that blossomed on my own waste ground,
Nor vespers sweeter than the robins knew.
Though Earth be but an outpost of delight,
Heaven's wild frontier by tragedy beset,
Only a Shakespeare may her gifts requite,
Only a happy Raphael pay his debt.
Yet I — to whom even as to those are given
Cascading foam, emblazoned butterflies,
The moon's pearl chariot through the massed clouds driven,
And the divinity of loving eyes —
Would make my peace now with mine hostess Earth,
Give and take pardon for all brief annoy,
And toss her, far beneath my lodging's worth,
Poor that I am, a coin of golden joy.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Claude McKay, 1889 - 1948
If we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
(cross-posted to greatpoets)
As Beyonce once sang, "We woke up in the kitchen, saying 'How the hell did this shit happen?'"
I did not want this outcome. I did not expect this outcome. I did not in any universe imagine that this outcome ever could have occurred — and the fact that I did not imagine it as possible means that clearly I have been out of touch with the hearts and minds of millions of my fellow Americans. I cannot say that I understand them. I certainly don't agree with them. And yet this is the world we wake up to today.
Every single day, you must face whatever world you have woken up to — whatever that may be. That's the only world you get. You must start there.
Let me tell you what happened in our home last night.
Hope, Faith, and Love, also known as Three Words of Strength
There are three lessons I would write, —
Three words — as with a burning pen,
In tracings of eternal light
Upon the hearts of men.
Have Hope. Though clouds environ now,
And gladness hides her face in scorn,
Put thou the shadow from thy brow, —
No night but hath its morn.
Have Faith. Where’er thy bark is driven, —
The calm’s disport, the tempest’s mirth, —
Know this: God rules the hosts of heaven,
The habitants of earth.
Have Love. Not love alone for one,
But men, as man, thy brothers call;
And scatter, like the circling sun,
Thy charities on all.
Thus grave these lessons on thy soul, —
Hope, Faith, and Love, — and thou shalt find
Strength when life’s surges rudest roll,
Light when thou else wert blind.
Schiller, Friedrich, (c. 1786); “Hope, Faith, and Love,” also known as “The Words of Strength”, as translated in The Common School Journal Vol. IX (1847) edited by Horace Mann, p. 386.
But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own — not of the same blood or birth, but of the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine.
And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him.
We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower.
To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.
(Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations", translated by Gregory Hays)
If They Come in the Night
Long ago on a night of danger and vigil
a friend said, why are you happy?
He explained (we lay together
on a cold hard floor) what prison
meant because he had done
time, and I talked of the death
of friends. Why are you happy
then, he asked, close to
( "I said, I like my life..." )
―Sir Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel.
It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.
And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.
Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
―Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum LP
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