This quote seems a bit radical, but after reflecting on it, I found reason to believe it.
Humility equals wisdom because it allows us to:
- discover wisdom well beyond our own personal limitations
- acknowledge that we don’t know as much as we think we know
- appreciate mystery
- listen better
- surrender our illusion of being wise
T. S. Eliot was a pretty smart guy. Mostly because he was a humble inquirer.
Larry Loftis’ new book, Code Name: Lise ejected me far away from my petty concerns and everyday drama.
Odette was a housewife and mother of three small girls before taking on the dangerous role of spy that landed her in serious pain and hardship. It wasn’t in vain, and now, over seventy years later, I have joined a myriad who have benefited from her service and that of so many other forgotten heroes.
I dare anyone to read this true story without being inspired to be more…more courageous, more patient, more sacrificial, and more passionate about life.
“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.”
― T.S. Eliot
Tim Ferriss passed this quote along in his Five-Bullet Friday email. It is an important quote for me to remember.
So often I review my day with disdain for the smallness of my existence rather than with a smile at the useful things I did, the courageous things I said (or the chicken-shit things I didn’t say), and the amazing beauty I was privileged to see, hear, or touch.
My wish for myself and others is that we would believe this quote enough to stop chasing an image of success that sucks the life out of those useful, courageous, and beautiful moments.
Possible reasons why we make too much of “that long groan which underlines the past”…
- We haven’t forgiven ourselves for being human
- We haven’t forgiven others for being human
- We are reliving our pain, slights, and failures over and over again
- We are not counting it all as training for our future
- We are taking ourselves way too seriously
- We do not comprehend how little time we have left
- We have a pattern of whining, blaming, and complaining
Now, I am ready to erase that groan at the past with a smile for the future.
“How will I survive?” or “How will I be successful?” are the wrong questions. The important question is, “How can I be useful?”
Jim Collins was speaking to entrepreneurs and business owners in this quote, yet it has critical application to our personal lives.
While working on a suicide-crisis line, I met countless people driven toward suicide because of these two wrong questions just as the questions had reeked havoc in my own journey.
How can I be useful? is my new mantra.
Shifting to a simple surrender of our assets to meet needs around us restores momentum and sanity.
Fear-based decision making will always drive us off course.
People are a mess. Life is often a mess. Things happen. Death is inevitable.
But, sing anyway.
Look it square in the face and sing.
That may sound absurd, but when I do, I find courage. Sometimes, even a smile.
Music seems to connect me to a harmony above the chaos.
That’s a good reason to test the hypothesis, anyway. (Especially when we consider how important music has been in all the stages of our life, how imbedded it is in our memories, and how much music meddles with our emotions.)
When my challenged nephew struggles against the yoke of his physical and mental challenges, there seems to be no relief. As his caregiver, I often want to despair.
I again find myself in the dark cavern of tragedy struggling to fathom the why of the world’s suffering.
Then, this simplest of truths:
Whatever is happening is the path to enlightenment.
If I surrender, all the distasteful and the unwanted will explain the riddles of life to me.
When I get this, life shifts from meaningless trouble to special-ops training.
Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.
My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Where do I apply? How hard can it be?
When it feels like no one is minding the store, somebody has to do the job. And, the way we talk, you’d think we could do a better job, right?
But, here’s a thought: when our lives go caddywampus, rather than spending time railing against the seeming lack of God in the universe, maybe it would be better if we simply tried to fill the (perceived) empty position instead, doing merciful “God stuff” for each other.
Oh, man, what does God require of thee but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly?
Or, we can be an April Fool and keep telling God what to do.
Maybe if we loved things more fervently while they were in their “whole” condition, we wouldn’t have to piece them back together in order to really see them.
I thought about this quote a lot after screws and plates were in my ankle.
I think about it now while going through old photos. Where was my appreciation of my friends, circumstances, health, and youth when these photos were taken?
Instead of admiring the “whole” I was…
- going from thing to thing without stopping for the moment
- maybe comparing what I had to what others had, and longing for more
- looking but never really seeing the “whole” sacred picture
Tread softly, for this is holy ground. Could we see with seeing eyes, the place we stand upon is Paradise.