The Majesty of Calmness

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    The Majesty of Calmness

    Individual Problems
    and Possibilities...

    by

    William George Jordan

    Author of "The Kingship of Self-Control"

    CONTENTS

    I. THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS
    II. HURRY, THE SCOURGE OF AMERICA
    III. THE POWER OF PERSONAL INFLUENCE
    IV. THE DIGNITY OF SELF-RELIANCE
    V. FAILURE AS A SUCCESS
    VI. DOING OUR BEST AT ALL TIMES
    VII. THE ROYAL ROAD TO HAPPINESS

    I

    The Majesty of Calmness

    Calmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a
    great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral
    atmosphere of a life self-centered, self-reliant, and self-controlled.
    Calmness is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious
    power,--ready to be focused in an instant to meet any crisis.

    The Sphinx is not a true type of calmness,--petrifaction is not
    calmness; it is death, the silencing of all the energies; while no one
    lives his life more fully, more intensely and more consciously than the
    man who is calm.

    The Fatalist is not calm. He is the coward slave of his environment,
    hopelessly surrendering to his present condition, recklessly
    indifferent to his future. He accepts his life as a rudderless ship,
    drifting on the ocean of time. He has no compass, no chart, no known
    port to which he is sailing. His self-confessed inferiority to all
    nature is shown in his existence of constant surrender. It is not,--
    calmness.

    The man who is calm has his course in life clearly marked on his chart.
    His hand is ever on the helm. Storm, fog, night, tempest, danger,
    hidden reefs,--he is ever prepared and ready for them. He is made calm
    and serene by the realization that in these crises of his voyage he
    needs a clear mind and a cool head; that he has naught to do but to do
    each day the best he can by the light he has; that he will never flinch
    nor falter for a moment; that, though he may have to tack and leave his
    course for a time, he will never drift, he will get back into the true
    channel, he will keep ever headed toward his harbor. _When_ he
    will reach it, _how_ he will reach it, matters not to him. He
    rests in calmness, knowing he has done his best. If his best seem to be
    overthrown or overruled, then he must still bow his head,--in calmness.
    To no man is permitted to know the future of his life, the finality.
    God commits to man ever only new beginnings, new wisdom, and new days
    to use the best of his knowledge.

    Calmness comes ever from within. It is the peace and restfulness of the
    depths of our nature. The fury of storm and of wind agitate only the
    surface of the sea; they can penetrate only two or three hundred feet,--
    below that is the calm, unruffled deep. To be ready for the great
    crises of life we must learn serenity in our daily living. Calmness is
    the crown of self-control.

    When the worries and cares of the day fret you, and begin to wear upon
    you, and you chafe under the friction,--be calm. Stop, rest for a
    moment, and let calmness and peace assert themselves. If you let these
    irritating outside influences get the better of you, you are confessing
    your inferiority to them, by permitting them to dominate you. Study the
    disturbing elements, each by itself, bring all the will power of your
    nature to bear upon them, and you will find that they will, one by one,
    melt into nothingness, like vapors fading before the sun. The glow of
    calmness that will then pervade your mind, the tingling sensation of an
    inflow of new strength, may be to you the beginning of the revelation
    of the supreme calmness that is possible for you. Then, in some great
    hour of your life, when you stand face to face with some awful trial,
    when the structure of your ambition and life-work crumbles in a moment,
    you will be brave. You can then fold your arms calmly, look out
    undismayed and undaunted upon the ashes of your hope, upon the wreck of
    what you have faithfully built, and with brave heart and unfaltering
    voice you may say: "So let it be,--I will build again."

    When the tongue of malice and slander, the persecution of inferiority,
    tempts you for just a moment to retaliate, when for an instant you
    forget yourself so far as to hunger for revenge,--be calm. When the
    grey heron is pursued by its enemy, the eagle, it does not run to
    escape; it remains calm, takes a dignified stand, and waits quietly,
    facing the enemy unmoved. With the terrific force with which the eagle
    makes its attack, the boasted king of birds is often impaled and run
    through on the quiet, lance-like bill of the heron. The means that man
    takes to kill another's character becomes suicide of his own.

    No man in the world ever attempted to wrong another without being
    injured in return,--someway, somehow, sometime. The only weapon of
    offence that Nature seems to recognize is the boomerang. Nature keeps
    her books admirably; she puts down every item, she closes all accounts
    finally, but she does not always balance them at the end of the month.
    To the man who is calm, revenge is so far beneath him that he cannot
    reach it,--even by stooping. When injured, he does not retaliate; he
    wraps around him the royal robes of Calmness, and he goes quietly on
    his way.

    When the hand of Death touches the one we hold dearest, paralyzes our
    energy, and eclipses the sun of our life, the calmness that has been
    accumulating in long years becomes in a moment our refuge, our reserve
    strength.

    The most subtle of all temptations is the _seeming_ success of the
    wicked. It requires moral courage to see, without flinching, material
    prosperity coming to men who are dishonest; to see politicians rise
    into prominence, power and wealth by trickery and corruption; to see
    virtue in rags and vice in velvets; to see ignorance at a premium, and
    knowledge at a discount. To the man who is really calm these puzzles of
    life do not appeal. He is living his life as best he can; he is not
    worrying about the problems of justice, whose solution must be left to
    Omniscience to solve.

    When man has developed the spirit of Calmness until it becomes so
    absolutely part of him that his very presence radiates it, he has made
    great progress in lite. Calmness cannot be acquired of itself and by
    itself; it must come as the culmination of a series of virtues. What
    the world needs and what individuals need is a higher standard of
    living, a great realizing sense of the privilege and dignity of life, a
    higher and nobler conception of individuality.

    With this great sense of calmness permeating an individual, man becomes
    able to retire more into himself, away from the noise, the confusion
    and strife of the world, which come to his ears only as faint, far-off
    rumblings, or as the tumult of the life of a city heard only as a
    buzzing hum by the man in a balloon.

    The man who is calm does not selfishly isolate himself from the world,
    for he is intensely interested in all that concerns the welfare of
    humanity. His calmness is but a Holy of Holies into which he can retire
    _from_ the world to get strength to live _in_ the world. He
    realizes that the full glory of individuality, the crowning of his
    self-control is,--the majesty of calmness.


    II

    Hurry, the Scourge of America


    The first sermon in the world was preached at the Creation. It was a
    Divine protest against Hurry. It was a Divine object lesson of perfect
    law, perfect plan, perfect order, perfect method. Six days of work
    carefully planned, scheduled and completed were followed by,--rest.
    Whether we accept the story as literal or as figurative, as the account
    of successive days or of ages comprising millions of years, matters
    little if we but learn the lesson.

    Nature is very un-American. Nature never hurries. Every phase of her
    working shows plan, calmness, reliability, and the absence of hurry.
    Hurry always implies lack of definite method, confusion, impatience of
    slow growth. The Tower of Babel, the world's first skyscraper, was a
    failure because of hurry. The workers mistook their arrogant ambition
    for inspiration. They had too many builders,--and no architect. They
    thought to make up the lack of a head by a superfluity of hands. This
    is a characteristic of Hurry. It seeks ever to make energy a substitute
    for a clearly defined plan,--the result is ever as hopeless as trying
    to transform a hobby-horse into a real steed by brisk riding.

    Hurry is a counterfeit of haste. Haste has an ideal, a distinct aim to
    be realized by the quickest, direct methods. Haste has a single compass
    upon which it relies for direction and in harmony with which its course
    is determined. Hurry says: "I must move faster. I will get three
    compasses; I will have them different; I will be guided by all of them.
    One of them will probably be right." Hurry never realizes that slow,
    careful foundation work is the quickest in the end.

    Hurry has ruined more Americans than has any other word in the
    vocabulary of life. It is the scourge of America; and is both a cause
    and a result of our high-pressure civilization. Hurry adroitly assumes
    so many masquerades of disguise that its identity is not always
    recognized.

    Hurry always pays the highest price for everything, and, usually the
    goods are not delivered. In the race for wealth men often sacrifice
    time, energy, health, home, happiness and honor,--everything that money
    cannot buy, the very things that money can never bring back. Hurry is a
    phantom of paradoxes. Business men, in their desire to provide for the
    future happiness of their family, often sacrifice the present happiness
    of wife and children on the altar of Hurry. They forget that their
    place in the home should be something greater than being merely "the
    man that pays the bills;" they expect consideration and thoughtfulness
    that they are not giving.

    We hear too much of a wife's duties to a husband and too little of the
    other side of the question. "The wife," they tell us, "should meet her
    husband with a smile and a kiss, should tactfully watch his moods and
    be ever sweetness and sunshine." Why this continual swinging of the
    censer of devotion to the man of business? Why should a woman have to
    look up with timid glance at the face of her husband, to "size up his
    mood"? Has not her day, too, been one of care, and responsibility, and
    watchfulness? Has not mother-love been working over perplexing problems
    and worries of home and of the training of the children that wifely
    love may make her seek to solve in secret? Is man, then, the weaker sex
    that he must be pampered and treated as tenderly as a boil trying to
    keep from contact with the world?

    In their hurry to attain some ambition, to gratify the dream of a life,
    men often throw honor, truth, and generosity to the winds. Politicians
    dare to stand by and see a city poisoned with foul water until they
    "see where they come in" on a water-works appropriation. If it be
    necessary to poison an army,--that, too, is but an incident in the
    hurry for wealth.

    This is the Age of the Hothouse. The element of natural growth is
    pushed to one side and the hothouse and the force-pump are substituted.
    Nature looks on tolerantly as she says: "So far you may go, but no
    farther, my foolish children."

    The educational system of to-day is a monumental institution dedicated
    to Hurry. The children are forced to go through a series of studies
    that sweep the circle of all human wisdom. They are given everything
    that the ambitious ignorance of the age can force into their minds;
    they are taught everything but the essentials,--how to use their senses
    and how to think. Their minds become congested by a great mass of
    undigested facts, and still the cruel, barbarous forcing goes on. You
    watch it until it seems you cannot stand it a moment longer, and you
    instinctively put out your hand and say: "Stop! This modern slaughter
    of the Innocents must _not_ go on!" Education smiles suavely,
    waves her hand complacently toward her thousands of knowledge-prisons
    over the country, and says: "Who are you that dares speak a word
    against our sacred, school system?" Education is in a hurry. Because
    she fails in fifteen years to do what half the time should accomplish
    by better methods, she should not be too boastful. Incompetence is not
    always a reason for pride. And they hurry the children into a hundred
    textbooks, then into ill-health, then into the colleges, then into a
    diploma, then into life,--with a dazed mind, untrained and unfitted for
    the real duties of living.

    Hurry is the deathblow to calmness, to dignity, to poise. The old-time
    courtesy went out when the new-time hurry came in. Hurry is the father
    of dyspepsia. In the rush of our national life, the bolting of food has
    become a national vice. The words "Quick Lunches" might properly be
    placed on thousands of headstones in our cemeteries. Man forgets that
    he is the only animal that dines; the others merely feed. Why does he
    abrogate his right to dine and go to the end of the line with the mere
    feeders? His self-respecting stomach rebels, and expresses its
    indignation by indigestion. Then man has to go through life with a
    little bottle of pepsin tablets in his vest-pocket. He is but another
    victim to this craze for speed. Hurry means the breakdown of the
    nerves. It is the royal road to nervous prostration.

    Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the
    newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its
    growth, the surer is its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full
    power in a night; oaks require decades. A fad lives its life in a few
    weeks; a philosophy lives through generations and centuries. If you are
    sure you are right, do not let the voice of the world, or of friends,
    or of family swerve you for a moment from your purpose. Accept slow
    growth if it must be slow, and know the results _must_ come, as
    you would accept the long, lonely hours of the night,--with absolute
    assurance that the heavy-leaded moments _must_ bring the morning.

    Let us as individuals banish the word "Hurry" from our lives. Let us
    care for nothing so much that we would pay honor and self-respect as
    the price of hurrying it. Let us cultivate calmness, restfulness,
    poise, sweetness,--doing our best, bearing all things as bravely as we
    can; living our life undisturbed by the prosperity of the wicked or the
    malice of the envious. Let us not be impatient, chafing at delay,
    fretting over failure, wearying over results, and weakening under
    opposition. Let us ever turn our face toward the future with confidence
    and trust, with the calmness of a life in harmony with itself, true to
    its ideals, and slowly and constantly progressing toward their
    realization.

    Let us see that cowardly word Hurry in all its most degenerating
    phases, let us see that it ever kills truth, loyalty, thoroughness; and
    let us determine that, day by day, we will seek more and more to
    substitute for it the calmness and repose of a true life, nobly lived.


    III

    The Power of Personal Influence


    The only responsibility that a man cannot evade in this life is the one
    he thinks of least,--his personal influence. Man's conscious influence,
    when he is on dress-parade, when he is posing to impress those around
    him,--is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent,
    subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts,
    the trifles he never considers,--is tremendous. Every moment of life he
    is changing to a degree the life of the whole world. Every man has an
    atmosphere which is affecting every other. So silent and unconsciously
    is this influence working, that man may forget that it exists.

    All the forces of Nature,--heat, light, electricity and gravitation,--
    are silent and invisible. We never _see_ them; we only know that
    they exist by seeing the effects they produce. In all Nature the
    wonders of the "seen" are dwarfed into insignificance when compared
    with the majesty and glory of the "unseen." The great sun itself does
    not supply enough heat and light to sustain animal and vegetable life
    on the earth. We are dependent for nearly half of our light and heat
    upon the stars, and the greater part of this supply of life-giving
    energy comes from _invisible_ stars, millions of miles from the
    earth. In a thousand ways Nature constantly seeks to lead men to a
    keener and deeper realization of the power and the wonder of the
    invisible.

    Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good
    or for evil,--the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his life.
    This is simply the constant radiation of what a man really _is_,
    not what he pretends to be. Every man, by his mere living, is radiating
    sympathy, or sorrow, or morbidness, or cynicism, or happiness, or hope,
    or any of a hundred other qualities. Life is a state of constant
    radiation and absorption; to exist is to radiate; to exist is to be the
    recipient of radiations.

    There are men and women whose presence seems to radiate sunshine, cheer
    and optimism. You feel calmed and rested and restored in a moment to a
    new and stronger faith in humanity. There are others who focus in an
    instant all your latent distrust, morbidness and rebellion against
    life. Without knowing why, you chafe and fret in their presence. You
    lose your bearings on life and its problems. Your moral compass is
    disturbed and unsatisfactory. It is made untrue in an instant, as the
    magnetic needle of a ship is deflected when it passes near great
    mountains of iron ore.

    There are men who float down the stream of life like icebergs,--cold,
    reserved, unapproachable and self-contained. In their presence you
    involuntarily draw your wraps closer around you, as you wonder who left
    the door open. These refrigerated human beings have a most depressing
    influence on all those who fall under the spell of their radiated
    chilliness. But there are other natures, warm, helpful, genial, who are
    like the Gulf Stream, following their own course, flowing undaunted and
    undismayed in the ocean of colder waters. Their presence brings warmth
    and life and the glow of sunshine, the joyous, stimulating breath of
    spring. There are men who are like malarious swamps,--poisonous,
    depressing and weakening by their very presence. They make heavy,
    oppressive and gloomy the atmosphere of their own homes; the sound of
    the children's play is stilled, the ripples of laughter are frozen by
    their presence. They go through life as if each day were a new big
    funeral, and they were always chief mourners. There are other men who
    seem like the ocean; they are constantly bracing, stimulating, giving
    new draughts of tonic life and strength by their very presence.

    There are men who are insincere in heart, and that insincerity is
    radiated by their presence. They have a wondrous interest in your
    welfare,--when they need you. They put on a "property" smile so
    suddenly, when it serves their purpose, that it seems the smile must be
    connected with some electric button concealed in their clothes. Their
    voice has a simulated cordiality that long training may have made
    almost natural. But they never play their part absolutely true, the
    mask _will_ slip down sometimes; their cleverness cannot teach
    their eyes the look of sterling honesty; they may deceive some people,
    but they cannot deceive all. There is a subtle power of revelation
    which makes us say: "Well, I cannot explain how it is, but I know that
    man is not honest."

    Man cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of his character,
    this constantly weakening or strengthening of others. He cannot evade
    the responsibility by saying it is an unconscious influence. He can
    _select_ the qualities that he will permit to be radiated. He can
    cultivate sweetness, calmness, trust, generosity, truth, justice,
    loyalty, nobility,--make them vitally active in his character,--and by
    these qualities he will constantly affect the world.

    Discouragement often comes to honest souls trying to live the best they
    can, in the thought that they are doing so little good in the world.
    Trifles unnoted by us may be links in the chain of some great purpose.
    In 1797, William Godwin wrote The Inquirer, a collection of
    revolutionary essays on morals and politics. This book influenced
    Thomas Malthus to write his Essay on Population, published in 1798.
    Malthus' book suggested to Charles Darwin a point of view upon which he
    devoted many years of his life, resulting, in 1859, in the publication
    of The Origin of Species,--the most influential book of the nineteenth
    century, a book that has revolutionized all science. These were but
    three links of influence extending over sixty years. It might be
    possible to trace this genealogy of influence back from Godwin, through
    generation and generation, to the word or act of some shepherd in early
    Britain, watching his flock upon the hills, living his quiet life, and
    dying with the thought that he had done nothing to help the world.

    Men and women have duties to others,--and duties to themselves. In
    justice to ourselves we should refuse to live in an atmosphere that
    keeps us from living our best. If the fault be in us, we should master
    it. If it be the personal influence of others that, like a noxious
    vapor, kills our best impulses, we should remove from that influence,--
    if we can _possibly_ move without forsaking duties. If it be wrong
    to move, then we should take strong doses of moral quinine to counteract
    the malaria of influence. It is not what those around us _do_ for
    us that counts,--it is what they _are_ to us. We carry our house-
    plants from one window to another to give them the proper heat, light,
    air and moisture. Should we not be at least as careful of ourselves?

    To make our influence felt we must live our faith, we must practice
    what we believe. A magnet does not attract iron, as iron. It must first
    convert the iron into another magnet before it can attract it. It is
    useless for a parent to try to teach gentleness to her children when
    she herself is cross and irritable. The child who is told to be
    truthful and who hears a parent lie cleverly to escape some little
    social unpleasantness is not going to cling very zealously to truth.
    The parent's words say "don't lie," the influence of the parent's life
    says "do lie."

    No man can ever isolate himself to evade this constant power of
    influence, as no single corpuscle can rebel and escape from the general
    course of the blood. No individual is so insignificant as to be without
    influence. The changes in our varying moods are all recorded in the
    delicate barometers of the lives of others. We should ever let our
    influence filter through human love and sympathy. We should not be
    merely an influence,--we should be an inspiration. By our very presence
    we should be a tower of strength to the hungering human souls around
    us.


    IV

    The Dignity of Self-Reliance


    Self-confidence, without self-reliance, is as useless as a cooking
    recipe,--without food. Self-confidence sees the possibilities of the
    individual; self-reliance realizes them. Self-confidence sees the angel
    in the unhewn block of marble; self-reliance carves it out for himself.

    The man who is self-reliant says ever: "No one can realize my
    possibilities for me, but me; no one can make me good or evil but
    myself." He works out his own salvation,--financially, socially,
    mentally, physically, and morally. Life is an individual problem that
    man must solve for himself. Nature accepts no vicarious sacrifice, no
    vicarious service. Nature never recognizes a proxy vote. She has
    nothing to do with middle-men,--she deals only with the individual.
    Nature is constantly seeking to show man that he is his own best
    friend, or his own worst enemy. Nature gives man the option on which he
    will be to himself.

    All the athletic exercises in the world are of no value to the
    individual unless he compel those bars and dumb-bells to yield to him,
    in strength and muscle, the power for which he, himself, pays in time
    and effort. He can never develop his muscles by sending his valet to a
    gymnasium.

    The medicine-chests of the world are powerless, in all the united
    efforts, to help the individual until he reach out and take for himself
    what is needed for his individual weakness.

    All the religions of the world are but speculations in morals, mere
    theories of salvation, until the individual realize that he must save
    himself by relying on the law of truth, as he sees it, and living his
    life in harmony with it, as fully as he can. But religion is not a
    Pullman car, with soft-cushioned seats, where he has but to pay for his
    ticket,--and some one else does all the rest. In religion, as in all
    other great things, he is ever thrown back on his self-reliance. He
    should accept all helps, but,--he must live his own life. He should not
    feel that he is a mere passenger; he is the engineer, and the train is
    his life. We must rely on ourselves, live our own lives, or we merely
    drift through existence,--losing all that is best, all that is
    greatest, all that is divine.

    All that others can do for us is to give us opportunity. We must ever
    be prepared for the opportunity when it comes, and to go after it and
    find it when it does not come, or that opportunity is to us,--nothing.
    Life is but a succession of opportunities. They are for good or evil,--
    as we make them.

    Many of the alchemists of old felt that they lacked but one element; if
    they could obtain that one, they believed they could transmute the
    baser metals into pure gold. It is so in character. There are
    individuals with rare mental gifts, and delicate spiritual discernment
    who fail utterly in life because they lack the one element,--self-
    reliance. This would unite all their energies, and focus them into
    strength and power.

    The man who is not self-reliant is weak, hesitating and doubting in all
    he does. He fears to take a decisive step, because he dreads failure,
    because he is waiting for some one to advise him or because he dare not
    act in accordance with his own best judgment. In his cowardice and his
    conceit he sees all his non-success due to others. He is "not
    appreciated," "not recognized," he is "kept down." He feels that in
    some subtle way "society is conspiring against him." He grows almost
    vain as he thinks that no one has had such poverty, such sorrow, such
    affliction, such failure as have come to him.

    The man who is self-reliant seeks ever to discover and conquer the
    weakness within him that keeps him from the attainment of what he holds
    dearest; he seeks within himself the power to battle against all
    outside influences. He realizes that all the greatest men in history,
    in every phase of human effort, have been those who have had to fight
    against the odds of sickness, suffering, sorrow. To him, defeat is no
    more than passing through a tunnel is to a traveler,--he knows he must
    emerge again into the sunlight.

    The nation that is strongest is the one that is most self-reliant, the
    one that contains within its boundaries all that its people need. If,
    with its ports all blockaded it has not within itself the necessities
    of life and the elements of its continual progress then,--it is weak,
    held by the enemy, and it is but a question of time till it must
    surrender. Its independence is in proportion to its self-reliance, to
    its power to sustain itself from within. What is true of nations is
    true of individuals. The history of nations is but the biography of
    individuals magnified, intensified, multiplied, and projected on the
    screen of the past. History is the biography of a nation; biography is
    the history of an individual. So it must be that the individual who is
    most strong in any trial, sorrow or need is he who can live from his
    inherent strength, who needs no scaffolding of commonplace sympathy to
    uphold him. He must ever be self-reliant.

    The wealth and prosperity of ancient Rome, relying on her slaves to do
    the real work of the nation, proved the nation's downfall. The constant
    dependence on the captives of war to do the thousand details of life
    for them, killed self-reliance in the nation and in the individual.
    Then, through weakened self-reliance and the increased opportunity for
    idle, luxurious ease that came with it, Rome, a nation of fighters,
    became,--a nation of men more effeminate than women. As we depend on
    others to do those things we should do for ourselves, our self-reliance
    weakens and our powers and our control of them becomes continuously
    less.

    Man to be great must be self-reliant. Though he may not be so in all
    things, he must be self-reliant in the one in which he would be great.
    This self-reliance is not the self-sufficiency of conceit. It is daring
    to stand alone. Be an oak, not a vine. Be ready to give support, but do
    not crave it; do not be dependent on it. To develop your true self-
    reliance, you must see from the very beginning that life is a battle
    you must fight for yourself,--you must be your own soldier. You cannot
    buy a substitute, you cannot win a reprieve, you can never be placed on
    the retired list. The retired list of life is,--death. The world is
    busy with its own cares, sorrows and joys, and pays little heed to you.
    There is but one great password to success,--self-reliance.

    If you would learn to converse, put yourself into positions where you
    _must_ speak. If you would conquer your morbidness, mingle with
    the bright people around you, no matter how difficult it may be. If you
    desire the power that some one else possesses, do not envy his
    strength, and dissipate your energy by weakly wishing his force were
    yours. Emulate the process by which it became his, depend on your self-
    reliance, pay the price for it, and equal power may be yours. The
    individual must look upon himself as an investment, of untold
    possibilities if rightly developed,--a mine whose resources can never
    be known but by going down into it and bringing out what is hidden.

    Man can develop his self-reliance by seeking constantly to surpass
    himself. We try too much to surpass others. If we seek ever to surpass
    ourselves, we are moving on a uniform line of progress, that gives a
    harmonious unifying to our growth in all its parts. Daniel Morrell, at
    one time President of the Cambria Rail Works, that employed 7,000 men
    and made a rail famed throughout the world, was asked the secret of the
    great success of the works. "We have no secret," he said, "but this,--
    we always try to beat our last batch of rails." Competition is good,
    but it has its danger side. There is a tendency to sacrifice real worth
    to mere appearance, to have seeming rather than reality. But the true
    competition is the competition of the individual with himself,--his
    present seeking to excel his past. This means real growth from within.
    Self-reliance develops it, and it develops self-reliance. Let the
    individual feel thus as to his own progress and possibilities, and he
    can almost create his life as he will. Let him never fall down in
    despair at dangers and sorrows at a distance; they may be harmless,
    like Bunyan's stone lions, when he nears them.

    The man who is self-reliant does not live in the shadow of some one
    else's greatness; he thinks for himself, depends on himself, and acts
    for himself. In throwing the individual thus back upon himself it is
    not shutting his eyes to the stimulus and light and new life that come
    with the warm pressure of the hand, the kindly word and the sincere
    expressions of true friendship. But true friendship is rare; its great
    value is in a crisis,--like a lifeboat. Many a boasted friend has
    proved a leaking, worthless "lifeboat" when the storm of adversity
    might make him useful. In these great crises of life, man is strong
    only as he is strong from within, and the more he depends on himself
    the stronger will he become, and the more able will he be to help
    others in the hour of their need. His very life will be a constant help
    and a strength to others, as he becomes to them a living lesson of the
    dignity of self-reliance.


    V

    Failure as a Success


    It ofttimes requires heroic courage to face fruitless effort, to take
    up the broken strands of a life-work, to look bravely toward the
    future, and proceed undaunted on our way. But what, to our eyes, may
    seem hopeless failure is often but the dawning of a greater success. It
    may contain in its debris the foundation material of a mighty purpose,
    or the revelation of new and higher possibilities.

    Some years ago, it was proposed to send logs from Canada to New York,
    by a new method. The ingenious plan of Mr. Joggins was to bind great
    logs together by cables and iron girders and to tow the cargo as a
    raft. When the novel craft neared New York and success seemed assured,
    a terrible storm arose. In the fury of the tempest, the iron bands
    snapped like icicles and the angry waters scattered the logs far and
    wide. The chief of the Hydrographic Department at Washington heard of
    the failure of the experiment, and at once sent word to shipmasters the
    world over, urging them to watch carefully for these logs which he
    described; and to note the precise location of each in latitude and
    longitude and the time the observation was made.

    Hundreds of captains, sailing over the waters of the earth, noted the
    logs, in the Atlantic Ocean, in the Mediterranean, in the South Seas--
    for into all waters did these venturesome ones travel. Hundreds of
    reports were made, covering a period of weeks and months. These
    observations were then carefully collated, systematized and tabulated,
    and discoveries were made as to the course of ocean currents that
    otherwise would have been impossible. The loss of the Joggins raft was
    not a real failure, for it led to one of the great discoveries in
    modern marine geography and navigation.

    In our superior knowledge we are disposed to speak in a patronizing
    tone of the follies of the alchemists of old. But their failure to
    transmute the baser metals into gold resulted in the birth of
    chemistry. They did not succeed in what they attempted, but they
    brought into vogue the natural processes of sublimation, filtration,
    distillation, and crystallization; they invented the alembic, the
    retort, the sand-bath, the water-bath and other valuable instruments.
    To them is due the discovery of antimony, sulphuric ether and
    phosphorus, the cupellation of gold and silver, the determining of the
    properties of saltpetre and its use in gunpowder, and the discovery of
    the distillation of essential oils. This was the success of failure, a
    wondrous process of Nature for the highest growth,--a mighty lesson of
    comfort, strength, and encouragement if man would only realize and
    accept it.

    Many of our failures sweep us to greater heights of success, than we
    ever hoped for in our wildest dreams. Life is a successive unfolding of
    success from failure. In discovering America Columbus failed
    absolutely. His ingenious reasoning and experiment led him to believe
    that by sailing westward he would reach India. Every redman in America
    carries in his name "Indian," the perpetuation of the memory of the
    failure of Columbus. The Genoese navigator did not reach India; the
    cargo of "souvenirs" he took back to Spain to show to Ferdinand and
    Isabella as proofs of his success, really attested his failure. But the
    discovery of America was a greater success than was any finding of a
    "back-door" to India.

    When David Livingstone had supplemented his theological education by a
    medical course, he was ready to enter the missionary field. For over
    three years he had studied tirelessly, with all energies concentrated
    on one aim,--to spread the gospel in China. The hour came when he was
    ready to start out with noble enthusiasm for his chosen work, to
    consecrate himself and his life to his unselfish ambition. Then word
    came from China that the "opium war" would make it folly to attempt to
    enter the country. Disappointment and failure did not long daunt him;
    he offered himself as missionary to Africa,--and he was accepted. His
    glorious failure to reach China opened a whole continent to light and
    truth. His study proved an ideal preparation for his labors as
    physician, explorer, teacher and evangel in the wilds of Africa.

    Business reverses and the failure of his partner threw upon the broad
    shoulders and the still broader honor and honesty of Sir Walter Scott a
    burden of responsibility that forced him to write. The failure spurred
    him to almost super-human effort. The masterpieces of Scotch historic
    fiction that have thrilled, entertained and uplifted millions of his
    fellow-men are a glorious monument on the field of a seeming failure.

    When Millet, the painter of the "Angelus" worked on his almost divine
    canvas, in which the very air seems pulsing with the regenerating
    essence of spiritual reverence, he was painting against time, he was
    antidoting sorrow, he was racing against death. His brush strokes, put
    on in the early morning hours before going to his menial duties as a
    railway porter, in the dusk like that perpetuated on his canvas,--meant
    strength, food and medicine for the dying wife he adored. The art
    failure that cast him into the depths of poverty unified with
    marvellous intensity all the finer elements of his nature. This rare
    spiritual unity, this purging of all the dross of triviality as he
    passed through the furnace of poverty, trial, and sorrow gave eloquence
    to his brush and enabled him to paint as never before,--as no
    prosperity would have made possible.

    Failure is often the turning-point, the pivot of circumstance that
    swings us to higher levels. It may not be financial success, it may not
    be fame; it may be new draughts of spiritual, moral or mental
    inspiration that will change us for all the later years of our life.
    Life is not really what comes to us, but what we get from it.

    Whether man has had wealth or poverty, failure or success, counts for
    little when it is past. There is but one question for him to answer, to
    face boldly and honestly as an individual alone with his conscience and
    his destiny:

    "How will I let that poverty or wealth affect me? If that trial or
    deprivation has left me better, truer, nobler, then,--poverty has been
    riches, failure has been a success. If wealth has come to me and has
    made me vain, arrogant, contemptuous, uncharitable, cynical, closing
    from me all the tenderness of life, all the channels of higher
    development, of possible good to my fellow-man, making me the mere
    custodian of a money-bag, then,--wealth has lied to me, it has been
    failure, not success; it has not been riches, it has been dark,
    treacherous poverty that stole from me even Myself." All things become
    for us then what we take from them.

    Failure is one of God's educators. It is experience leading man to
    higher things; it is the revelation of a way, a path hitherto unknown
    to us. The best men in the world, those who have made the greatest real
    successes look back with serene happiness on their failures. The
    turning of the face of Time shows all things in a wondrously
    illuminated and satisfying perspective.

    Many a man is thankful to-day that some petty success for which he once
    struggled, melted into thin air as his hand sought to clutch it.
    Failure is often the rock-bottom foundation of real success. If man, in
    a few instances of his life can say, "Those failures were the best
    things in the world that could have happened to me," should he not face
    new failures with undaunted courage and trust that the miraculous
    ministry of Nature may transform these new stumbling-blocks into new
    stepping-stones?

    Our highest hopes, are often destroyed to prepare us for better things.
    The failure of the caterpillar is the birth of the butterfly; the
    passing of the bud is the becoming of the rose; the death or
    destruction of the seed is the prelude to its resurrection as wheat. It
    is at night, in the darkest hours, those preceding dawn, that plants
    grow best, that they most increase in size. May this not be one of
    Nature's gentle showings to man of the times when he grows best, of the
    darkness of failure that is evolving into the sunlight of success. Let
    us fear only the failure of not living the right as we see it, leaving
    the results to the guardianship of the Infinite.

    If we think of any supreme moment of our lives, any great success, any
    one who is dear to us, and then consider how we reached that moment,
    that success, that friend, we will be surprised and strengthened by the
    revelation. As we trace each one, back, step by step, through the
    genealogy of circumstances, we will see how logical has been the course
    of our joy and success, from sorrow and failure, and that what gives us
    most happiness to-day is inextricably connected with what once caused
    us sorrow. Many of the rivers of our greatest prosperity and growth
    have had their source and their trickling increase into volume among
    the dark, gloomy recesses of our failure.

    There is no honest and true work, carried along with constant and
    sincere purpose that ever really fails. If it sometime seem to be
    wasted effort, it will prove to us a new lesson of "how" to walk; the
    secret of our failures will prove to us the inspiration of possible
    successes. Man living with the highest aims, ever as best he can, in
    continuous harmony with them, is a success, no matter what statistics
    of failure a near-sighted and half-blind world of critics and
    commentators may lay at his door.

    High ideals, noble efforts will make seeming failures but trifles, they
    need not dishearten us; they should prove sources of new strength. The
    rocky way may prove safer than the slippery path of smoothness. Birds
    cannot fly best with the wind but against it; ships do not progress in
    calm, when the sails flap idly against the unstrained masts.

    The alchemy of Nature, superior to that of the Paracelsians, constantly
    transmutes the baser metals of failure into the later pure gold of
    higher success, if the mind of the worker be kept true, constant and
    untiring in the service, and he have that sublime courage that defies
    fate to its worst while he does his best.


    VI

    Doing Our Best at All Times


    Life is a wondrously complex problem for the individual, until, some
    day, in a moment of illumination, he awakens to the great realization
    that he can make it simple,--never quite simple, but always simpler.
    There are a thousand mysteries of right and wrong that have baffled the
    wise men of the ages. There are depths in the great fundamental
    questions of the human race that no plummet of philosophy has ever
    sounded. There are wild cries of honest hunger for truth that seek to
    pierce the silence beyond the grave, but to them ever echo back,--only
    a repetition of their unanswered cries.

    To us all, comes, at times, the great note of questioning despair that
    darkens our horizon and paralyzes our effort: "If there really be a
    God, if eternal justice really rule the world," we say, "why should
    life be as it is? Why do some men starve while others feast; why does
    virtue often languish in the shadow while vice triumphs in the
    sunshine; why does failure so often dog the footsteps of honest effort,
    while the success that comes from trickery and dishonor is greeted with
    the world's applause? How is it that the loving father of one family is
    taken by death, while the worthless incumbrance of another is spared?
    Why is there so much unnecessary pain, sorrowing and suffering in the
    world--why, indeed, should there be any?"

    Neither philosophy nor religion can give any final satisfactory answer
    that is capable of logical demonstration, of absolute proof. There is
    ever, even after the best explanations, a residuum of the unexplained.
    We must then fall back in the eternal arms of faith, and be wise enough
    to say, "I will not be disconcerted by these problems of life, I will
    not permit them to plunge me into doubt, and to cloud my life with
    vagueness and uncertainty. Man arrogates much to himself when he
    demands from the Infinite the full solution of all His mysteries. I
    will found my life on the impregnable rock of a simple fundamental
    truth:--'This glorious creation with its millions of wondrous phenomena
    pulsing ever in harmony with eternal law must have a Creator, that
    Creator must be omniscient and omnipotent. But that Creator Himself
    cannot, in justice, demand of any creature more than the best that that
    individual can give.' I will do each day, in every moment, the best I
    can by the light I have; I will ever seek more light, more perfect
    illumination of truth, and ever live as best I can in harmony with the
    truth as I see it. If failure come I will meet it bravely; if my
    pathway then lie in the shadow of trial, sorrow and suffering, I shall
    have the restful peace and the calm strength of one who has done his
    best, who can look back upon the past with no pang of regret, and who
    has heroic courage in facing the results, whatever they be, knowing
    that he could not make them different."

    Upon this life-plan, this foundation, man may erect any superstructure
    of religion or philosophy that he conscientiously can erect; he should
    add to his equipment for living every shred of strength and
    inspiration, moral, mental or spiritual that is in his power to secure.
    This simple working faith is opposed to no creed, is a substitute for
    none; it is but a primary belief, a citadel, a refuge where the
    individual can retire for strength when the battle of life grows hard.

    A mere theory of life, that remains but a theory, is about as useful to
    a man, as a gilt-edged menu is to a starving sailor on a raft in mid-
    ocean. It is irritating but not stimulating. No rule for higher living
    will help a man in the slightest, until he reach out and appropriate it
    for himself, until he make it practical in his daily life, until that
    seed of theory in his mind blossom into a thousand flowers of thought
    and word and act.

    If a man honestly seeks to live his best at all times, that
    determination is visible in every moment of his living, no trifle in
    his life can be too insignificant to reflect his principle of living.
    The sun illuminates and beautifies a fallen leaf by the roadside as
    impartially as a towering mountain peak in the Alps. Every drop of
    water in the ocean is an epitome of the chemistry of the whole ocean;
    every drop is subject to precisely the same laws as dominate the united
    infinity of billions of drops that make that miracle of Nature, men
    call the Sea. No matter how humble the calling of the individual, how
    uninteresting and dull the round of his duties, he should do his best.
    He should dignify what he is doing by the mind he puts into it, he
    should vitalize what little he has of power or energy or ability or
    opportunity, in order to prepare himself to be equal to higher
    privileges when they come. This will never lead man to that weak
    content that is satisfied with whatever falls to his lot. It will
    rather fill his mind with that divine discontent that cheerfully
    accepts the best,--merely as a temporary substitute for something
    better.

    The man who is seeking ever to do his best is the man who is keen,
    active, wide-awake, and aggressive. He is ever watchful of himself in
    trifles; his standard is not "What will the world say?" but "Is it
    worthy of me?"

    Edwin Booth, one of the greatest actors on the American stage, would
    never permit himself to assume an ungraceful attitude, even in his
    hours of privacy. In this simple thing, he ever lived his best. On the
    stage every move was one of unconscious grace. Those of his company who
    were conscious of their motions were the awkward ones, who were seeking
    in public to undo or to conceal the carelessness of the gestures and
    motions of their private life. The man who is slipshod and thoughtless
    in his daily speech, whose vocabulary is a collection of anaemic
    commonplaces, whose repetitions of phrases and extravagance of
    interjections act but as feeble disguises to his lack of ideas, will
    never be brilliant on an occasion when he longs to outshine the stars.
    Living at one's best is constant preparation for instant use. It can
    never make one over-precise, self-conscious, affected, or priggish.
    Education, in its highest sense, is _conscious_ training of mind
    or body to act _unconsciously_. It is conscious formation of
    mental habits, not mere acquisition of information.

    One of the many ways in which the individual unwisely eclipses himself,
    is in his worship of the fetich of luck. He feels that all others are
    lucky, and that whatever he attempts, fails. He does not realize the
    untiring energy, the unremitting concentration, the heroic courage, the
    sublime patience that is the secret of some men's success. Their "luck"
    was that they had prepared themselves to be equal to their opportunity
    when it came and were awake to recognize it and receive it. His own
    opportunity came and departed unnoted, it would not waken him from his
    dreams of some untold wealth that would fall into his lap. So he grows
    discouraged and envies those whom he should emulate, and he bandages
    his arm and chloroforms his energies, and performs his duties in a
    perfunctory way, or he passes through life, just ever "sampling" lines
    of activity.

    The honest, faithful struggler should always realize that failure is
    but an episode in a true man's life,--never the whole story. It is
    never easy to meet, and no philosophy can make it so, but the steadfast
    courage to master conditions, instead of complaining of them, will help
    him on his way; it will ever enable him to get the best out of what he
    has. He never knows the long series of vanquished failures that give
    solidity to some one else's success; he does not realize the price that
    some rich man, the innocent football of political malcontents and
    demagogues, has heroicly paid for wealth and position.

    The man who has a pessimist's doubt of all things; who demands a
    certified guarantee of his future; who ever fears his work will not be
    recognized or appreciated; or that after all, it is really not worth
    while, will never live his best. He is dulling his capacity for real
    progress by his hypnotic course of excuses for inactivity, instead of a
    strong tonic of reasons for action.

    One of the most weakening elements in the individual make-up is the
    surrender to the oncoming of years. Man's self-confidence dims and dies
    in the fear of age. "This new thought," he says of some suggestion
    tending to higher development, "is good; it is what we need. I am glad
    to have it for my children; I would have been happy to have had some
    such help when I was at school, but it is too late for me. I am a man
    advanced in years."

    This is but blind closing of life to wondrous possibilities. The knell
    of lost opportunity is never tolled in this life. It is never too late
    to recognize truth and to live by it. It requires only greater effort,
    closer attention, deeper consecration; but the impossible does not
    exist for the man who is self-confident and is willing to pay the price
    in time and struggle for his success or development. Later in life, the
    assessments are heavier in progress, as in life insurance, but that
    matters not to that mighty self-confidence that _will_ not grow
    old while knowledge can keep it young.

    Socrates, when his hair whitened with the snow of age, learned to play
    on instruments of music. Cato, at fourscore, began his study of Greek,
    and the same age saw Plutarch beginning, with the enthusiasm of a boy,
    his first lessons in Latin. The Character of Man, Theophrastus'
    greatest work, was begun on his ninetieth birthday. Chaucer's
    Canterbury Tales was the work of the poet's declining years. Ronsard,
    the father of French poetry, whose sonnets even translation cannot
    destroy, did not develop his poetic faculty until nearly fifty.
    Benjamin Franklin at this age had just taken his really first steps of
    importance in philosophic pursuits. Arnauld, the theologian and sage,
    translated Josephus in his eightieth year. Winckelmann, one of the most
    famous writers on classic antiquities, was the son of a shoemaker, and
    lived in obscurity and ignorance until the prime of life. Hobbes, the
    English philosopher, published his version of the Odyssey in his
    eighty-seventh year, and his Iliad one year later. Chevreul, the great
    French scientist, whose untiring labors in the realm of color have so
    enriched the world, was busy, keen and active when Death called him, at
    the age of 103.

    These men did not fear age; these few names from the great muster-roll
    of the famous ones who defied the years, should be voices of hope and
    heartening to every individual whose courage and confidence is weak.
    The path of truth, higher living, truer development in every phase of
    life, is never shut from the individual--until he closes it himself.
    Let man feel this, believe it and make this faith a real and living
    factor in his life and there are no limits to his progress. He has but
    to live his best at all times, and rest calm and untroubled no matter
    what results come to his efforts. The constant looking backward to what
    might have been, instead of forward to what may be, is a great weakener
    of self-confidence. This worry for the old past, this wasted energy,
    for that which no power in the world can restore, ever lessens the
    individual's faith in himself, weakens his efforts to develop himself
    for the future to the perfection of his possibilities.

    Nature in her beautiful love and tenderness, says to man, weakened and
    worn and weary with the struggle, "Do in the best way you can the
    trifle that is under your hand at this moment; do it in the best spirit
    of preparation for the future your thought suggests; bring all the
    light of knowledge from all the past to aid you. Do this and you have
    done your best. The past is forever closed to you. It is closed forever
    to you. No worry, no struggle, no suffering, no agony of despair can
    alter it. It is as much beyond your power as if it were a million years
    of eternity behind you. Turn all that past, with its sad hours,
    weakness and sin, its wasted opportunities as light; in confidence and
    hope, upon the future. Turn it all in fuller truth and light so as to
    make each trifle of this present a new past it will be joy to look back
    to; each trifle a grander, nobler, and more perfect preparation for the
    future. The present and the future you can make from it, is yours; the
    past has gone back, with all its messages, all its history, all its
    records to the God who loaned you the golden moments to use in
    obedience to His law."


    VII

    The Royal Road to Happiness


    "During my whole life I have not had twenty-four hours of happiness." So
    said Prince Bismarck, one of the greatest statesmen of the nineteenth
    century. Eighty-three years of wealth, fame, honors, power, influence,
    prosperity and triumph,--years when he held an empire in his fingers,--
    but not one day of happiness!

    Happiness is the greatest paradox in Nature. It can grow in any soil,
    live under any conditions. It defies environment. It comes from within;
    it is the revelation of the depths of the inner life as light and heat
    proclaim the sun from which they radiate. Happiness consists not of
    having, but of being; not of possessing, but of enjoying. It is the
    warm glow of a heart at peace with itself. A martyr at the stake may
    have happiness that a king on his throne might envy. Man is the creator
    of his own happiness; it is the aroma of a life lived in harmony with
    high ideals. For what a man _has_, he may be dependent on others;
    what he _is_, rests with him alone. What he _ob_tains in life
    is but acquisition; what he _at_tains, is growth. Happiness is the
    soul's joy in the possession of the intangible. Absolute, perfect,
    continuous happiness in life, is impossible for the human. It would
    mean the consummation of attainments, the individual consciousness of a
    perfectly fulfilled destiny. Happiness is paradoxic because it may
    coexist with trial, sorrow and poverty. It is the gladness of the
    heart,--rising superior to all conditions.

    Happiness has a number of under-studies,--gratification, satisfaction,
    content, and pleasure,--clever imitators that simulate its appearance
    rather than emulate its method. Gratification is a harmony between our
    desires and our possessions. It is ever incomplete, it is the thankful
    acceptance of part. It is a mental pleasure in the quality of what one
    receives, an unsatisfiedness as to the quantity. It may be an element
    in happiness, but, in itself,--it is not happiness.

    Satisfaction is perfect identity of our desires and our possessions. It
    exists only so long as this perfect union and unity can be preserved.
    But every realized ideal gives birth to new ideals, every step in
    advance reveals large domains of the unattained; every feeding
    stimulates new appetites,--then the desires and possessions are no
    longer identical, no longer equal; new cravings call forth new
    activities, the equipoise is destroyed, and dissatisfaction reenters.
    Man might possess everything tangible in the world and yet not be
    happy, for happiness is the satisfying of the soul, not of the mind or
    the body. Dissatisfaction, in its highest sense, is the keynote of all
    advance, the evidence of new aspirations, the guarantee of the
    progressive revelation of new possibilities.

    Content is a greatly overrated virtue. It is a kind of diluted despair;
    it is the feeling with which we continue to accept substitutes, without
    striving for the realities. Content makes the trained individual
    swallow vinegar and try to smack his lips as if it were wine. Content
    enables one to warm his hands at the fire of a past joy that exists
    only in memory. Content is a mental and moral chloroform that deadens
    the activities of the individual to rise to higher planes of life and
    growth. Man should never be contented with anything less than the best
    efforts of his nature can possibly secure for him. Content makes the
    world more comfortable for the individual, but it is the death-knell of
    progress. Man should be content with each step of progress merely as a
    station, discontented with it as a destination; contented with it as a
    step; discontented with it as a finality. There are times when a man
    should be content with what he _has_, but never with what he
    _is_.

    But content is not happiness; neither is pleasure. Pleasure is
    temporary, happiness is continuous; pleasure is a note, happiness is a
    symphony; pleasure may exist when conscience utters protests;
    happiness,--never. Pleasure may have its dregs and its lees; but none
    can be found in the cup of happiness.

    Man is the only animal that can be really happy. To the rest of the
    creation belong only weak imitations of the understudies. Happiness
    represents a peaceful attunement of a life with a standard of living.
    It can never be made by the individual, by himself, for himself. It is
    one of the incidental by-products of an unselfish life. No man can make
    his own happiness the one object of his life and attain it, any more
    than he can jump on the far end of his shadow. If you would hit the
    bull's-eye of happiness on the target of life, aim above it. Place
    other things higher than your own happiness and it will surely come to
    you. You can buy pleasure, you can acquire content, you can become
    satisfied,--but Nature never put real happiness on the bargain-counter.
    It is the undetachable accompaniment of true living. It is calm and
    peaceful; it never lives in an atmosphere of worry or of hopeless
    struggle.

    The basis of happiness is the love of something outside self. Search
    every instance of happiness in the world, and you will find, when all
    the incidental features are eliminated, there is always the constant,
    unchangeable element of love,--love of parent for child; love of man
    and woman for each other; love of humanity in some form, or a great
    life work into which the individual throws all his energies.

    Happiness is the voice of optimism, of faith, of simple, steadfast
    love. No cynic or pessimist can be really happy. A cynic is a man who
    is morally near-sighted,--and brags about it. He sees the evil in his
    own heart, and thinks he sees the world. He lets a mote in his eye
    eclipse the sun. An incurable cynic is an individual who should long
    for death,--for life cannot bring him happiness, death might. The
    keynote of Bismarck's lack of happiness was his profound distrust of
    human nature.

    There is a royal road to happiness; it lies in Consecration,
    Concentration, Conquest and Conscience.

    Consecration is dedicating the individual life to the service of
    others, to some noble mission, to realizing some unselfish ideal. Life
    is not something to be lived _through_; it is something to be
    lived _up to_. It is a privilege, not a penal servitude of so many
    decades on earth. Consecration places the object of life above the mere
    acquisition of money, as a finality. The man who is unselfish, kind,
    loving, tender, helpful, ready to lighten the burden of those around
    him, to hearten the struggling ones, to forget himself sometimes in
    remembering others,--is on the right road to happiness. Consecration is
    ever active, bold and aggressive, fearing naught but possible
    disloyalty to high ideals.

    Concentration makes the individual life simpler and deeper. It cuts
    away the shams and pretences of modern living and limits life to its
    truest essentials. Worry, fear, useless regret,--all the great wastes
    that sap mental, moral or physical energy must be sacrificed, or the
    individual needlessly destroys half the possibilities of living. A
    great purpose in life, something that unifies the strands and threads
    of each day's thinking, something that takes the sting from the petty
    trials, sorrows, sufferings and blunders of life, is a great aid to
    Concentration. Soldiers in battle may forget their wounds, or even be
    unconscious of them, in the inspiration of battling for what they
    believe is right. Concentration dignifies an humble life; it makes a
    great life,--sublime. In morals it is a short-cut to simplicity. It
    leads to right for right's sake, without thought of policy or of
    reward. It brings calm and rest to the individual,--a serenity that is
    but the sunlight of happiness.

    Conquest is the overcoming of an evil habit, the rising superior to
    opposition and attack, the spiritual exaltation that comes from
    resisting the invasion of the grovelling material side of life.
    Sometimes when you are worn and weak with the struggle; when it seems
    that justice is a dream, that honesty and loyalty and truth count for
    nothing, that the devil is the only good paymaster; when hope grows dim
    and flickers, then is the time when you must tower in the great sublime
    faith that Right must prevail, then must you throttle these imps of
    doubt and despair, you must master yourself to master the world around
    you. This is Conquest; this is what counts. Even a log can float with
    the current, it takes a man to fight sturdily against an opposing tide
    that would sweep his craft out of its course. When the jealousies, the
    petty intrigues and the meannesses and the misunderstandings in life
    assail you,--rise above them. Be like a lighthouse that illumines and
    beautifies the snarling, swashing waves of the storm that threaten it,
    that seek to undermine it and seek to wash over it. This is Conquest.
    When the chance to win fame, wealth, success or the attainment of your
    heart's desire, by sacrifice of honor or principle, comes to you and it
    does not affect you long enough even to seem a temptation, you have
    been the victor. That too is Conquest. And Conquest is part of the
    royal road to Happiness.

    Conscience, as the mentor, the guide and compass of every act, leads
    ever to Happiness. When the individual can stay alone with his
    conscience and get its approval, without using force or specious logic,
    then he begins to know what real Happiness is. But the individual must
    be careful that he is not appealing to a conscience perverted or
    deadened by the wrongdoing and subsequent deafness of its owner. The
    man who is honestly seeking to live his life in Consecration,
    Concentration and Conquest, living from day to day as best he can, by
    the light he has, may rely explicitly on his Conscience. He can shut
    his ears to "what the world says" and find in the approval of his own
    conscience the highest earthly tribune,--the voice of the Infinite
    communing with the Individual.

    Unhappiness is the hunger to get; Happiness is the hunger to give. True
    happiness must ever have the tinge of sorrow outlived, the sense of
    pain softened by the mellowing years, the chastening of loss that in
    the wondrous mystery of time transmutes our suffering into love and
    sympathy with others.

    If the individual should set out for a single day to give Happiness, to
    make life happier, brighter and sweeter, not for himself, but for
    others, he would find a wondrous revelation of what Happiness really
    is. The greatest of the world's heroes could not by any series of acts
    of heroism do as much real good as any individual living his whole life
    in seeking, from day to day, to make others happy.

    Each day there should be fresh resolution, new strength, and renewed
    enthusiasm. "Just for Today" might be the daily motto of thousands of
    societies throughout the country, composed of members bound together to
    make the world better through constant simple acts of kindness,
    constant deeds of sweetness and love. And Happiness would come to them,
    in its highest and best form, not because they would seek to
    absorb it, but, because they seek to radiate it.
     
  2. strativarius

    strativarius Comfortably Numb

    tl;dr
     
  3. prosecco

    prosecco Patron Meritorious

    I liked the picture, but way too may words to be calm.
     
  4. degraded being

    degraded being Sponsor

    Re: The Majesty of Verboseness

    .
    .



    The Majesty of Verbosity

    Verbosity is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a
    great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals.


    Verbosity is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious
    power,--ready to be focused in an instant to meet any crisis.


    The Sphinx is not a true type of verbosity,--petrifaction is not
    verbosity; it is death, the silencing of all the energies; while no one
    lives his life more fully, more intensely and more consciously than the
    man who is verbose.


    The Fatalist is not verbose. He is the coward slave of his environment,
    hopelessly surrendering to his present condition, recklessly
    indifferent to his future. He accepts his life as a rudderless ship,
    drifting on the ocean of time. He has no compass, no chart, no known
    port to which he is sailing. His self-confessed inferiority to all
    nature is shown in his existence of constant surrender. It is not,--
    verbosity.


    The man who is verbose has his course in life clearly marked on his chart.


    He is made verbose and serene by the realization that in these crises of his voyage he needs a clear mind and a cool head;

    He rests in verbosity, knowing he has done his best. If his best seem to be overthrown or overruled, then he must still bow his head,--in verbosity.

    Verbosity comes ever from within. It is the peace and restfulness of the depths of our nature.

    The fury of storm and of wind agitate only the surface of the sea; they can penetrate only two or three hundred feet,-- below that is the verbose, unruffled deep. To be ready for the great crises of life we must learn serenity in our daily living. Verbosity is the crown of self-control.

    When the worries and cares of the day fret you, and begin to wear upon you, and you chafe under the friction,--be verbose.

    Stop, rest for a moment, and let verbosity and peace assert themselves.

    The glow of verbosity that will then pervade your mind, the tingling sensation of an inflow of new strength, may be to you the beginning of the revelation
    of the supreme verboseness that is possible for you.


    You can then fold your arms verbosely, look out
    undismayed and undaunted upon the ashes of your hope, upon the wreck of
    what you have faithfully built, and with brave heart and unfaltering
    voice you may say: "So let it be,--I will build again."


    When the tongue of malice and slander, the persecution of inferiority,
    tempts you for just a moment to retaliate, when for an instant you
    forget yourself so far as to hunger for revenge,--be verbose.


    When the grey heron is pursued by its enemy, the eagle, it does not run to escape; it remains verbose,



    To the man who is verbose, revenge is so far beneath him that he cannot reach it,--even by stooping. When injured, he does not retaliate; he
    wraps around him the royal robes of Verboseness, and he goes quietly on
    his way.


    When the hand of Death touches the one we hold dearest, paralyzes our
    energy, and eclipses the sun of our life, the verboseness that has been
    accumulating in long years becomes in a moment our refuge, our reserve
    strength.


    To the man who is really verbose these puzzles of life do not appeal. He is living his life as best he can; he is not
    worrying about the problems of justice, whose solution must be left to
    Omniscience to solve.


    When man has developed the spirit of Verbosity until it becomes so
    absolutely part of him that his very presence radiates it, he has made
    great progress in life.
    Verbosity cannot be acquired of itself and by itself; it must come as the culmination of a series of virtues.


    With this great sense of verbosity permeating an individual, man becomes able to retire more into himself, away from the noise, the confusion
    and strife of the world, which come to his ears only as faint, far-off
    rumblings, or as the tumult of the life of a city heard only as a
    buzzing hum by the man in a balloon.


    The man who is verbose does not selfishly isolate himself from the world, for he is intensely interested in all that concerns the welfare of humanity. His verbosity is but a Holy of Holies into which he can retire from the world to get strength to live in_the world. He realizes that the full glory of individuality, the crowning of his self-control is,--the majesty of verbosity.


     
  5. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    ''There's no hurry in nature'', go and watch a gazelle being chased by a hungry lion. Nature is not cuddly, it is not calm, there's violence, fear, stress, terror and kill or be killed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0QPr1piLvE
     
  6. degraded being

    degraded being Sponsor

    Pass me my G&T and cigar would you Old Chap..... er sorry, did you say something about lions?
     
  7. ThetanExterior

    ThetanExterior Goldenrod SP

  8. Type4_PTS

    Type4_PTS Diamond Invictus SP

    The OP was tl;dr so I didn't read it.
    I do love lions though; is that what it was about? :happydance:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Smurf

    Smurf Gold Meritorious SP

    [video=youtube;RsOxgwF9LlM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsOxgwF9LlM[/video]
     
  10. Udarnik

    Udarnik Gold Meritorious Patron

    I did read it, and the style immediately told me it was written in the first half of the 20th Century, but Googling the author's bio tells me it might have been written in the latter two decades of the 1800s.

    As with most such things, it presents a one sided view of a topic, but it does have valid points. For another take on the topic, see this essay.

    Workaholism is bad, I think no one disagrees. But to LLLL's point, nature forces stress on all of its creatures. Business and other human competition aside, Nature also only gives one a finite lifetime. One must hurry sometimes in order to make the most of it, and wasting one's talents and life are among the highest sins in my book - perhaps that is why I have such a horror of Scientology.

    On the other hand, there are other aspects to one's life besides work, and even at work, many tasks are make-work drudgery. I recently left a Fortune 100 company to work at a start-up because the endless reorganizations and mergers meant that I was constantly asked to hurry on "show-the-flag" projects to impress senior management (often on others' behalf with minimal credit) that not only often made no difference to the bottom line, but sometimes were counterproductive to our economic progress. In certain ways I'm busier now than before, but I am much happier because nearly everything I do has a positive impact on my new business.

    IMHO, it's not hurry that's the problem. It's constant, mindless hurry that's the problem.
     
  11. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    I agree, constant panicky activity is what the cos specialise in. It's mostly activity that doesn't produce any result, it's insane and pointless, keeping busy for the sake of it. A feeling of stillness and calm is a needed thing in any life, being able to sit on a hill under a tree watching a sunset after a few hours of digging and pulling out weeds, writing a few chapters or sorting out a failing business is wonderful. It doesn't take an insurmountable wall of words to say that. Nature is stressful but we can take those stresses away by being civilized and further by setting aside time to contemplate, to not listen to an MP3 player or watch TV or play games online or drink in a bar. Perhaps find time for a little yogic meditation, and don't forget the healing brought about by laughing in a group or a good orgasm with a loved one.
     
  12. degraded being

    degraded being Sponsor

    Could you say that a little more Majestically?
     
  13. I told you I was trouble

    I told you I was trouble Suspended animation

    Re: The Majesty of dyslexia ...

    "Keep clam and carry on".
     
  14. gbuck

    gbuck oxymoron

    V. FAILURE AS A SUCCESS........................apparently my failure to understand is his success, we both win.​
     
  15. lotus

    lotus autonomous rebellous

    Majesticallylyness ????
    hum
    Majesticallness ????

    Majisticalmyness???

    :booze: :booze:

    Arggggggggggggggggggggghhhhh :grouch:

    ::drowning:


    :tiptoe:
     
  16. Uncult

    Uncult Patron

    I respect all your thoughtful comments.
     
  17. Anonycat

    Anonycat Crusader


    Which one of you ordered spam with a side of TL;DR? What the hell is going on around here?
     
  18. Little David

    Little David Silver Meritorious Patron

    I don't know but please quote it again!
     
  19. Uncult

    Uncult Patron

    My error. I thought I was posting something thoughtful and nice for people that are interested.
     
  20. Anonycat

    Anonycat Crusader

    QFCWoTE. Quoted for craziest wall of text ever.
     

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