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Thoughts on a Whim: ‘O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious.

January 19, 2009

John Muir

John Muir

At the age of 15 John Muir discovered a love for reading. But with all the chores and farm work to do in Wisconsin his reading minutes were precious few. He tried reading before bed but his father forbade him saying, “John, go to bed! Must I give you a separate order every night to get you to go to bed? Now, I will have no irregularity in the family; you must go when the rest go, and without my having to tell you.” Then, softening up a bit, said, “If you will read, get up in the morning and read. You may get up in the morning as early as you like.” So John did. The first winter morning he woke up at 1am. He writes, “I did not vary more than 5 minutes from 1 o’clock all winter, nor did I feel any bad effects whatever, nor did I think at all about the subject as to whether so little sleep might be in any way injurious; it was a grand triumph of will-power over cold and common comfort and work-weariness in abruptly cutting down my 10 hours allowance of sleep to 5. I simply felt that I was rich beyond anything I could have dreamed of or hoped for. I was far more than happy. Like Tam o’Shanter I was
glorious, ‘O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious.”

A Hare Krishna disciple once told me men only need five hours sleep and women six. But unless we find a fantastic reason to get up and live why would we? Jobs, duties, and responsibilities have their place but do we get up with a zeal for life, a dance in our step, and a song in our heart? Do we have reason to rise for something “beyond anything I could have dreamed of”? Henry David Thoreau tells us, “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.” What is awaiting us with another dawn-another day? The possibilities are endless! Thoreau continues, “The millions are awake enough for physical labor but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?”

Explore, venture, learn, evolve, develop, strengthen, devote, serve, become. Charles Lindbergh tells us, “‘Why should man want to fly at all?’ People often ask these questions. But what civilization was not founded on adventure, and how long could one exist without it? Some answer the attainment of knowledge. Some say wealth, or power, is sufficient cause. I believe the risks I take are justified by the sheer love of the life I lead.”

Our quest is to find a reason or reasons to eliminate everything superfluous in our lives such as excess sleep, excess food, luxuries that don’t further our growth or well-being, that we may actually abase ourselves in all humility and live life in its richest and most raw form. It was Jesus Christ who said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2009 7:28 PM

    What about preserving one’s good health? Any excess used to achieve this is one of worth.

    • volitionmag permalink*
      January 20, 2009 1:20 AM

      What “excess” to achieve health do you mean? Health is incredibly important-physical, mental, spiritual-and should be given the necessary attention. Do you mean excess for food? Prescription drugs? Dr. visits? Visits to the spa? Could you elaborate a bit? How is our excess used to achieve better, more optimum health?

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