We bump into wisdom in interesting places.
Always emanating from someone’s soul, shared as it resonates in another’s being.
I’m reading ancient philosophy, trying to see if perhaps the ancients held a key to happiness, which might have been lost along the way, for the collective cry of our century is for happiness, from the discomfort of the jail we’ve constructed for ourselves with modern and post-modern religion, democracy, consumerism and their parents enlightenment and reformation.
While I’m slowly cutting a path through the forgotten words of disremembered sages, a friend is reading Dean Koontz’s fiction and brings to me these words from Koontz’s novel ‘Fear Nothing’: “We’re not here to leave a mark. Monuments, legacies, marks … that’s where we always go wrong. We’re here to revel in the world, to soak in the awesomeness of it, to enjoy the ride. The world’s maximum perfect as it is, beauty from horizon to horizon. Any mark any of us try to leave – hell, it’s only graffiti. Nothing can improve on the world we’ve been given. Any mark anyone leaves, is no better than vandalism”.
The words vibrate against the embers of my soul.
A deep low hum, of something I’ve sensed and seen and suffered.
And I think of my own vandalism as I emerged into adulthood, encouraged by many that this is the only real meaning, to do something which leaves deep ugly scars, as impressions of the lives of Davids and Pauls are held next to mine, to show me how much I have to do in a short time, in order to be able to say I’ve taken the two talents entrusted to me and did more than bury them in a dirty rag.
Perhaps this is what Augustine talks about, ‘any mark anyone leaves is no better than vandalism’, when he suggests ‘he who is happy, does not want’?
Perhaps this is what Paul speaks of, when trying to advise a young Timothy, in telling him to merely ‘do what his hands find to busy themselves with’?
Perhaps it is the inspiritment of Christ’s words, as He explains ‘humility’ as part of the Gift of living deeply connected to our Origin?
Perhaps it is what Confucius alluded to when he said ‘ The Superior Man has nothing to compete for’.
And I think of our family’s journey to Mabua Sehube in Botswana’s remote thirtslands, the tracks left by our Defender long gone, the rubbish generated by us, brought home with us, any evidence that we might have been there, reduced to a few pictures and exceptional memories.
A soft tread.
Empty of aspiration.
Filled with being.
And as I consider these words in their savoir-faire, I apologise for the misplaced fervour of my youth and I resolve to live a little quieter, intruding as little as I possibly can into a world which is ‘maximum perfect from horizon to horizon’.
My happiness a little more complete, as I am redeemed from the terrible burden of having to ‘achieve’ and ‘prove’ and ‘perform’, set free to ‘be’ and ‘live’ and ‘revel’.
Which is a little easier, because I believe in ‘Gift’, which is ‘Peace’ as well, my own living a little more loving.