Death comes to all being. We know that. The only thing constant in life is change. We know that as well. Still, that doesn’t stop us mourning. When you are faced with death of a loved one, for example, you mourn the person. But you also mourn over what is coming. You have to live your life without this person from now on. It is a massive change for anyone and it is scary. I won’t even try to guess how you feel right now. But I’m going to tell you a story, that I hope will give you some degree of comfort and remind you that you are not alone. This story is from the Therigatha. The Therigatha (or “Verses of the Elder Nuns”) is a collection of short poems of early women who were elder nuns. The poems date from a three hundred year period, with some dated as early as the late 6th century BCE.
I have a fun fact for you: The very first word in the history of Western literature that denotes a human emotion is “anger”. That’s how Homer’s “Iliad” begins in the 8th century BC. What then follows is, of course, the story of the Trojan war. That should already tell us how significant Anger is. But then, even this early in history, we are already introduced to how we manage anger. By setting some of his scenes behind enemy lines, among the Trojan fighters and their families. We are invited to see the Trojan enemy not as barbarians at all but as people very much like us (that is, like Greeks): laughing and joking, loving their children, kindly, and in awe of their gods.
Patience is a virtue, and there’s a reason for that – it’s really a tough skill to master. Julius Caesar once said that “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.” Some people are naturally patient. But the rest of us need to practice for it to become a habit. Becoming more patient will not happen overnight, but persistence can pay off and it is very important to do this because of course we all lose our patience occasionally. But doing so frequently or inappropriately can harm your reputation, damage your relationships, increase stress, or escalate a difficult situation. In short, if you are not patient, you are making yourself a pain in the tush for the people around you.
What is happiness? Do you know how to define happiness? Do you think happiness is the same thing to you as it is to others? Does it even make a difference in our lives? The word for “happy” in most languages came from the word for “lucky.” Perhaps our ancestors believed that happiness was largely a by-product of luck, but it also points to a possible difference of general opinion between earlier generations and our 20th and 21st-century generations: that happiness was not a vital factor in a good life, but essentially a bonus that some lucky individuals got to experience. Is that true?
“O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem, By that sweet ornament which truth doth give! The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem For that sweet odour which doth in it live.” William Shakespeare, Sonnet 54 In this poem, Shakespeare was arguing his belief that there is a strong link between truth and beauty. This may not be the most famous sonnet he ever wrote, but it’s one of the best poetic meditations on the meaning of beauty.
I am reading a small section of our new book, Time Maps: Gods, Kings and Prophets. Time Maps: Gods, Kings and Prophets is the fifth book of the Time Maps series. It is now available through Amazon.
Psychologist Robert Provine’s theory is that, “Laughter is a mechanism everyone has. It is a part of universal human vocabulary. There are thousands of languages, hundreds of thousands of dialects, but everyone speaks laughter in pretty much the same way.” Babies have the ability to laugh before they ever speak. Children who are born blind and deaf still retain the ability to laugh. In other words, when you have very little else, you will still have the ability to laugh.
I am reading a small section of our new book, Time Maps: Gods, Kings and Prophets. Time Maps: Gods, Kings and Prophets is the fifth book of the Time Maps series. It is now available through Amazon.