In life, we see all types of men: young men of ability, middle-aged men with families, older men in contemplation. They all seem relatively equal. What is to distinguish one from the other? How do we know which one is superior?
I say that you preference men with a vital force. A man whose blood is still coursing through his veins. A man that exudes passion and has expelled the parasitic forces of complacency. In short, a GREAT MAN with an active spirit.
It’s too easy to reflect back…to ponder the deeds of our youth. “Remember when I was a somebody!” mutters the nobody. This type of nostalgia is to be frowned upon. The urgency of now is real, and only the brave will rise to meet the challenges of humanity.
Your inner circle should be filled with GREAT MEN. And more specifically, men with an active vital force. Ones that have an appreciation for natural beauty and artistic merit. Ones that respect the divine force of empiricism. Ones that believe the becoming man is worth more than a jealous pettifogger.
You should preference the man that retains a vital force.
Can you still capture the heroic glory of life of life? For one moment, can you sing the song of ascension? Can you still be a lofty soul, playing a guitar solo on the mountain peaks of victory? Can you carry another on the waves of an exquisite passion?
I affirm as much for myself. I stand on the coastline of despair, still willing to fight. I raise my voice on the battlefield of defeat, still affirming the universal life essence. I challenge the force of spiritless materialism, of human cruelty, and of dark and hopeless corners.
For what is a man if he cannot dream? What is a man is he cannot still fight?
The GREAT MAN can never give up. He refuses to drown in the sea a despair…he battles to protect a noble tome.
Illuminati, Reptilian shape shifters, Russian collusion. All of these ideas are mysterious, shrouded in uncertainty. And therefore, you run into the hedge maze of confusion. You search here and there to no avail. And yet you continue…all because a charlatan sold you an abstract idea.
In academia, we have the mental masturbation of a Noam Chomsky or a David Foster Wallace. Men who are applauded for their ability to confuse. The more they confound, the more praise they receive. What degeneracy! They lead us into a nowhere place, filling our soul with air.
Focusing your attention of what is mysterious makes you ignore what is obvious.
So what is obvious then? The beauty of nature….the waves crashing on a distant shore. The wind as it whistles on a fern-rich forest. The river stream as it runs from a peak into a lush valley floor. The fawn as it suckles on her mother’s teet.
In music, we have Mozart. In poetry, we have Neruda. In architecture, we have the castles that line the European countryside. They’re real and tangible. Accessible to the common man by virtue of a universal life essence. They elevate the human soul.
The GREAT MAN speaks directly to the heart of his audience. He elevates the spirit world of his fellow man…and he shuns mysterious abstraction!
Henry David Thoreau spoke on the dangers of superfluous negativity: on reliving things that are dark and tragic.
“If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned…One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?”
Everybody is guilty of this to some degree. We revisit an ugly topic more times than is necessary. We read about a particular war six times, instead of two. We read about a corrupt individual five times, instead of one. And so on and so forth.
To quote Kenny Rogers: “You gotta know when to hold…know when to fold them.”
This advice was given to me years ago and I find it to be useful. All the years…and I’ve seen a million faces. So many different jobs and locations. I have to choose my battles. I cannot move a mountain and I cannot change the mind of another man. I have to look within. To focus on myself.
To pick my battles. To know which conversation to have with people…to know when to leave the room.
Knowing when to speak your mind is silver….knowing when to be silent is gold.
The reward for this knowledge is enormous – it’s about my well-being and my sanity. It’s about my peace of mind.
Note to self: Keep your business dealings frequent, brief, and positive.
He places no part of his happiness in ostentation, but in the secret approbation of his conscience, seeking the reward of his virtue, not in the clamorous applauses of the world, but in the silent satisfaction which results from having acted well.
This wisdom is coming from Letters of Pliny. He speaks about a friend, Titus Aristo, that is always happy. And where does this happiness come from? Not in fame or fortune. But, as Pliny puts it…
“…in the silent satisfaction which results from having acted well.”
This is generally true.
Happiness is complex. And many factors can ruin your day…or even your life. Yet, as a general rule, the perspective of any man is resting in his conscience. It’s resting in his commitment to virtue, or in the knowledge that he’s on the correct Highway of Life.
The stoic wisdom of Ancient Rome is an irony. On one hand, it comes from people that have been dead for hundreds of years…men that are long forgotten. And yet, the wisdom they share is timeless—it speaks to the life of a modern man.
The safest plan, and the one most sure of success for the young man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most congenial to his tastes.
Do what you love. If you love what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life. This advice was true yesterday and it’s true today.
The logic is basic. But still, many people cannot follow it. One reason (according to Barnum) is they receive poor advice from their parents:
Parents and guardians are often quite too negligent in regard to this. It very common for a father to say, for example: “I have five boys. I will make Billy a clergyman; John a lawyer; Tom a doctor, and Dick a farmer.”… He does this, regardless of Sam’s [his child’s] natural inclinations, or genius.
Very true. Many parents are concerned with the prestige of a child’s position; sadly, they overlook the natural talents of the child. And so the boy grows up in a job that he hates. And more importantly, he never becomes a GREAT MAN.
Barnum mentions that he, himself, had very few talents. He was not mechanically inclined, and he sucked at mathematics. However, he stumbled into a job that he loved – owning a business. And because of this, he was able to apply his natural talents.
Barnum summarizes the message:
Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed.
Today we continue with the wisdom of ages. A favorite quote of mine from Marcus Aurelius in Meditations…one that I’ve shared with others for two decades:
Where does the common man go? Where does he live?
They [the common men] seek for themselves private retiring places, as country villages, the sea-shore, mountains; yea thou thyself art wont to long much after such places.
Yes, so true. We think that the mansion on the hill will make us happy. We believe that the Time Share in the Tropics will bring us inner peace. We seek the “country village, the sea-shore, mountains” and so forth. The more things change, the more they stay the same. In Ancient Rome, many thought that they could buy their way into happiness.
And he continues…
But all this thou must know proceeds from simplicity in the highest degree. At what time soever thou wilt, it is in thy power to retire into thyself, and to be at rest, and free from all businesses. A man cannot any whither retire better than to his own soul;
Retire into thyself and be at rest.
The mansion is lying within your breastplate…the stairwell to Xanadu, leading into your consciousness. We turn on the television, hoping for answers. We thumb the pages of a periodical, praying for solace. Yet so much is futile. The search will always lead to a mirror.
The greatest mansion you have is lying within your soul.