Journal Entry from My Past Written 24th March 1975
Self portrait - photo taken in mirror 1977.
Don't take life or yourself too seriously.
I wrote this journal entry thirty-eight years ago. It begins:
I was about to sit down and write a serious discourse about life then what did I see? As if in answer to my query as to just what I should write about the pages of this journal fell open (at random?) to reveal the words: ‘Don’t take life, or yourself, too seriously.’ Well! What can one do after such a remark?
I was going to say that it seems that I have been coasting through life lately, and that I have felt that things were going too easily. Not that it isn’t pleasant for things to go ‘easily.’ But somehow it doesn’t seem natural – to me, anyway. Perhaps I have become so used to self-induced strain that, when I haven’t got it, things don’t seem right. Anyhow, I know that it is in the nature of things not to allow a human being to be comfortable for too long.
The old 'Puritan Ethic' pushes so many of us.
Years of self-programming – possibly of the wrong sort – have left me with the belief that a person should always be achieving or attempting to achieve something, some sort of self-improvement. Not that one should not have time for leisure. But leisure should be a side issue (or a byproduct) the main object being work. It’s the old Puritan Ethic I guess. Be that as it may, I feel, and feel deeply, the need for ever-continuing self-improvement along some line or another.
My elder son, Stephen, around 1968 on our backyard swing.
In which way should we improve?
This is part of my dilemma. In which way should I improve? Now a man can do almost anything, and provided he tries to do it well and does it consistently enough, he will improve at it. Just to improve at something, i.e. nothing in particular, is not necessarily good. A man could become a social drinker (probably not really a bad thing) or an adept pick-pocket, or a professional torturer with enough practice, but would he be a better man for it?
The question is then ‘What should I practice at?’
An answer: Anything I admire or recognize as being good
My daughter, Debbie in 1974, Browns Bay, Auckland.
Now there are some things which are fundamentally good.
Now there are some things which are fundamentally good. They hurt no one, and bring their benefits to all. Most, if not all, of the Arts fall into this category. Music, painting, sculptor are obvious ones. They improve the skill of the artist. By their very nature they imbue in the artist such noble qualities as patience, and an eye or ear for beauty, perseverance and so many of those attributes we all hold to be good.
Communication can be used for good or selfish ends.
Writing and Public Speaking are not as easily definable as being noble. Both can deliberately be used for selfish ends. The same goes for a lot of the other arts, sciences and skills. Even a pure mathematician can have his equations perverted by the technologist who sees in them something that is less than pure. Look at what has happened so far with the theories of men such as Einstein and Rutherford.
Martin as a little boy. He was our youngest.
What, then, is a man to do?
So what then is a man to do? It is nice to go from day to day just living: raising a family, eating, drinking, making love, taking pleasure in such bodily exercises as swimming in tepid pools, clipping the hedge in one’s garden. It is wonderful. But is this all that God expects of his creation, Mankind?
Maybe it is.
It's no good getting 'up tight' about this perennial quesiton.
And yet I am not satisfied with that answer. Maybe it isn’t. However, it’s no good getting ‘up tight’ about this perennial question. Humanity en-masse is heading somewhere, and whether we personally contribute or otherwise will not alter that fact.
But somehow it is very satisfying to know that one is contributing.
End of journal entry. I hope you enjoyed the read.
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