Brian’s Reflection: Monday, March 8, 2010
I despise making the most of one's time. Half of the pleasures
of life consist of the opportunities one has neglected.
Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether
it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., American Supreme Court Chief
Justice, born on this date, March 8, 1841, in Boston
Well, as is often the case, I can’t choose, so I include both quotes. The first I agree with. He speaks to a serious modern illness, certainly in American “culture”. People work too much, and I think it creates ill health both in huge numbers of individuals and in the society as a whole. The amount of drugs Americans take to deal with psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical illnesses is phenomenal – and normal human emotions like grief and sadness are being treated with drugs – in part because we “can’t afford” to be “off work”. (See Louis Menand’s piece in the March 1 New Yorker.)
We can’t do everything – and we ought not to try. Holmes indicates how much of the joy of Life is lost to us being busy. Unless we stop and smell the coffee or the flowers (symbols of course), we can expect more anger, more depression, more suicides, more crime, more anti-social behaviour ………. and the drug companies will go on making billions in profits (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/03/07/more-evidence-urgent-problem ), paragraph two.
I also believe that Holmes is spiritually right on the dime in what he says about Life. Huge numbers of us don’t think that Life “is worth living”. And I can see why. We judge the value of Life by what we have earned or “accomplished”, etc. We are trained – yes, in this so-called highly religious culture – to treat Life as if it is a means to an end, the end being “having things”. But Dickens for one made the point beautifully (let lone Jesus): It was Bob Cratchett who was happy, not Scrooge.
Life, and those of us who live Life, are ends in themselves. Nothing gives us ultimate value except that we ARE.
When “you have had enough of it”, you can let it go when the time comes, with Peace. If you’re making a list of how you want to spend your life, add “helping each other to have enough of Life” to that List.