Monday, May 4, 2009

A point to ponder when it all seems like too much

This is an excerpt from Henry Miller's essay "The Immorality of Morality", which is published in the collection Stand Still Like the Hummingbird. It's meant a lot to me...

It sounds like defeatism to say to the young of our day: "Do not rebel! Do not make victims of yourselves!" What I mean, in saying this, is that one should not fight a losing battle. The system is destroying itself; the dead are burying the dead. Why expend one's energy fighting something which is already tottering? Neither would I urge one to run away from the danger zone. The danger is everywhere; there are no safe and secure places in which to start a new life. Stay where you are and make what life you can among the impending ruins. Do not put one thing above another in importance. Do only what has to be done -- immediately. Whether the wave is ascending or desending, the ocean is always there. You are a fish in the ocean of time, you are a constant in an ocean of change, you are nothing and everything at one and the same time. Was the dinner good? Was the grass green? Did the water slake your thirst? Are the stars still in the heavens? Does the sun still shine? Can you talk, walk, sing, play? Are you still breathing?

With every breath we draw we are utilizing forces that are absolutely mysterious as well as all powerful. We are swimming in a sea of forces which demand only to be utilized and enjoyed. The problems which beset us are human problems, problems largely of our own making. The great problems remain untouched: we have not the vision as yet to recognize them. But in accepting our everyday problems, accepting them gladly and unreservedly, we may make ourselves fit to cope with the greater ones to come. The mathematician is not appalled by the problems which face him in his work, neither is the surgeon, nor anyone who engages seriously in whatever pursuit. Why then should man, as a species, be terrified of the problems which beset him? Why should he deny the monster which he has created with his own hands? If he has spawned a monster, let him devour his own monster!

This essay is wonderful enough that the whole of it should be consumed, multiple times, but I can only write so much... or I am lazy.

1 comment:

Sergio said...

Love this essay!
Henry Miller is great!