Some want to reach a point of victorious finality. They want to enter the end-zone of the football field, slam the ball down, and celebrate. Finally, they say, I have arrived!
I have made it, they bray. I can now coast a little, they assure us. Listen to these asses bray, bray, bray. I can hardly stand it. And then they tell us: I can subsist on this victorious inertia for a while, and see where that takes me.
Oh, if only it were that simple. The end-zone, sorry to say, does not exist. Fortune hates inertia, and will snuff it out quickly.
It is an illusion. There is struggle to the end. Right up until the very end of all. There is no point in our lives where we will reach this Elysium-like end-zone, slam the ball down, and rest on our laurels forever after.
You will be struggling in kindergarten.
You will be struggling in school. In college. In the workplace. With you friends. With your lovers. With your wives. With your children. Even with your pets, truth be told.
And this is the law of life. Or one of them, anyway. Life, really. Don’t bother to ask me what life is. It just is. Sometimes it’s so bloody many different things that I don’t know what it is. Maybe today it is one thing. And maybe tomorrow it is something else.
And on your deathbed, in your eighties or nineties (we hope), you will be struggling with the nurses and the others lying in beds beside you.
Do not go gentle into that dark night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
But this does not mean that life is an endless sequence of gloom and doom, of conflict on top of conflict, signifying nothing.
No, far from it.
It only means that life is for the living. Life is for the stout of heart. For the coeurs de leon.
Life involves agony, pain, and conflict, but it also elevates us to the pinnacles of ecstasy, joy, satisfaction, and above all Love. Love, which is the eternal binder of all souls. And also the redeemer of them.
We should not, and cannot, shrink from the responsibilities of life, in all of its ups and downs, its highs and lows, its agonies and its ecstasies.
We must never allow ourselves to feel broken, defeated, debilitated, or beaten by life. I will not allow this. I will not permit this disease of defeatism in my life. Will not. Ever.
You fight till the last rag is left on your old, creaking bones. And this is life: anyone telling you otherwise is peddling rot.
I am not advocating pointless conflict for its own sake. I am not doing this at all. You may think that my language is strident: but it’s hard to hear a new voice.
I am only reminding us all–myself included–that we must buoy our spirits up, and collect our fortitude, and remember that we should welcome the opportunity for challenges in life.
Ease and relaxation are wonderful. But they are not goals. They are temporary, transitory conditions of the spirit.
We have a responsibility to train our brethren to expect hardships, and equip them with the tools needed for survival and happiness in life.
And once you have accepted this fact, this reality, things become so much clearer. You become the bearer of a truly great soul, able to move mountains with its convictions and actions. For this we need two things:
- Indifference to the material things of this world
- Seeking out arduous tasks to perform, which validate the nobility of our spirits
These are two requirements for the strong and great soul.
I will quote Cicero here, from On Moral Duties (I.19) which sums up some of what I am talking about:
A strong and great soul is altogether distinguished by two features. One is the contempt for the external things of this world; the great soul is persuaded that no man ought to wonder at, hope for, or seek after anything except those things related to goodness and virtue, and that he should succumb to neither another man, nor a disturbance of the spirit, nor a trial of Fortune.
The second feature is that, when you have molded your soul with this sort of attitude, as I said above, you perform great achievements of the highest utility which are extremely arduous, laborious, and full of danger to life, and to many other things connected to one’s livelihood.
Once we remove this mirage of “end-zones” from our thinking, it all becomes so much better, and so much clearer. We can focus on the tasks at hand. We can come to terms with the pressures of life, and the games that it plays with us.
So keep the football held tight, and keep running.
Read More: Wolf: A Drama Of Self-Destruction