Triumph and Disaster
Being curious about how things work, especially the mind. Asking why at every turn. Lots of things usually just happen. We are not the instruments which dictate most of what goes on. Keeping this in mind, whether winning or losing, being open to the experience.
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
“If” by Rudyard Kipling raises issues we all face. Written in 1910 it does echo some societal beliefs of the time; don’t take those points too literally. The themes are responsibility, response rather than react, life values… every line has a world of consideration. Kipling is highlighting the nature of things: “If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew, To serve your turn long after they are gone,” just as Elio’s father does: “if there is pain, nurse it. And if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out..” .
Trying to not let the bad things get in the way of your curiosity. Minimise the unhelpful. Being curious how things work. These traits allow us to learn to avoid the traps of overreacting to the crazy things happening. When we have knowledge we can be creative and try out different ways to think about things.
Sadness and gladness (If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same;…) run alongside each other with every breath we take. The moment there is wanting something there is yearning and uncertainty… will it be gotten? Get it and there is gladness but soon enough, fear of losing it will eat away at the joy. Then when it’s lost sadness and grieving take over. Now uncertainty raises it’s influence. When thinking about uncertainty we can see it accompanies nearly every stage of the journey.
Our experiences are interpreted according to our outlook, education and consequent knowledge Our education is usually not designed to teach us to interpret and think about things so we have to learn to do that ourselves. If our parents are clever, they will provide us with an endless supply of influencers; friends and visitors to the home bringing in ideas from all quarters. Books and visits to galleries and concerts.
Film nights and loads of talking around the table.
The educated mind can only want more stimulation. Each new thought springs forth myriads of possibilities for the enquiring mind. Elio’s family is a prime example of this. We can’t all have what Elio had but we can always encourage our friends, children, partners, ourselves to experiment and try the new. Seeing what makes things work is an antidote to the poison and rot of TV and the craziness of social media.
The Kadashians are probably lowering the average IQ of the world’s citizens as we read. Hilariously this book is written as an accompaniment for the clinic, even thorugh many people admit they rarely read. Some will agree to reading blogs and news on their phones. But a book? A rare sight these days. Till we start seeing people with books in their hands as they go about their day we may face a limited influence for introducing new ideas and processes. Luckily we do have podcasts and films and plays and music.