Piece 5

GoetheThis is the final background piece before I begin posting journal-like entries.  Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe is another poet, artist, or may I say universal man, that had a great influence on me.  This poem, written a few years before his death, may be directed towards the young about ready to enter life and I find this piece to be quite poignant and wise.  This piece is a potential remedy or a solution to overcome my utopian day dreams, excuses, and aggravation with the general human momentum.  It is my intention and desire  that my journal-like writings lead to more consciousness  and action in the spirit of this eternal piece of wisdom.

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A Legacy

No living atom comes at last to naught! 
Active in each is still the eternal Thought: 
Hold fast to Being if thou wouldst be blest. 
Being is without end; for changeless laws 
Bind that from which the All its glory draws 
Of living treasures endlessly possessed. 

Unto the wise of old this truth was known, 
Such wisdom knit their noble souls in one; 
Then hold thou still the lore of ancient days! 
To that high power thou ow’st it, son of man, 
By whose decree the earth its circuit ran 
And all the planets went their various ways. 
Then inward turn at once thy searching eyes; 

Thence shalt thou see the central truth arise 
From which no lofty soul goes e’er astray; 
There shalt thou miss no needful guiding sign- 
For conscience lives, and still its light divine 
Shall be the sun of all thy moral day. 
Next shalt thou trust thy senses’ evidence, 
And fear from them no treacherous offence 
While the mind’s watchful eye thy road commands: 
With lively pleasure contemplate the scene 
And roam securely, teachable, serene, 
At will throughout a world of fruitful lands. 
Enjoy in moderation all life gives: 
Where it rejoices in each thing that lives 
Let reason be thy guide and make thee see. 
Then shall the distant past be present still, 
The future, ere it comes, thy vision fill- 
Each single moment touch eternity. 
Then at the last shalt thou achieve thy quest, 
And in one final, firm conviction rest: 
What bears for thee true fruit alone is true. 
Prove all things, watch the movement of the world 
As down the various ways its tribes are whirled; 
Take thou thy stand among the chosen few. 
Thus hath it been of old; in solitude 
The artist shaped what thing to him seemed good, 
The wise man hearkened to his own soul’s voice. 
Thus also shalt thou find thy greatest bliss; 
To lead where the elect shall follow-this 
And this alone is worth a hero’s choice.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Perils of Success


My grandfather told me when I was a young boy to be humble.  He said, if I ever began to get full of myself to go outside on a clear night when the moon was absent and look up at the stars to gain perspective.

When I was born, my family didn’t have much money.  My dad worked for a trucking company where he started as a management trainee on the dock.  My dad’s father (the man who told me to look at the stars) was a high school science teacher and football coach and didn’t make much money.  But, my grandfather told me he decided to teach as opposed to going into business, because he felt he could make a difference in people’s lives.  My parents seemed to look down on that decision to some extent.  They thought he chose that profession because he experienced the Great Depression and teaching was a more secure path.  After all, why would one chose to make less money if one could make more in business?

At a very young age, prior to third grade, I lived in a nice little house in a nice little neighborhood in Ohio.  Kids played outside and there was a small forest behind the homes.  Our house was decorated modestly and filled with family photos and things that symbolized something about our life.  Everything seemed to make sense.

Time moved on and my dad progressed rapidly up the ranks.  When I hit second grade we moved to California due to my dad’s promotion.  He was promoted to the second in command for a large Fortune 500 company.  Eventually he got the top spot and we moved to a really nice house.  This was the house that was backed up against a beautiful nature preserve that I discussed in my previous post “Enigma”.

Along with my dad’s success came noticeable changes in my parents and what decorated the house.  The family photos and meaningful things were replaced by modern art-work and decorations that matched the paint, carpet, or furniture.  The meaningful things were stored away or hung downstairs in dark hallways or the laundry room or bathrooms.  My parents began to travel often, go to events, and wear nicer clothes.  I could see that they began to act and think like they had arrived.  I used to talk to my grandfather about how strange they are behaving and how I didn’t like the feel of the house.  I told him it felt more like a cold museum than a home.  He agreed.

Eventually I went off to college that wasn’t too far from my parents.  I could visit them on a weekend or during breaks.  While I was in college, my dad was let go by the board of directors.  Apparently, his decision to buy a large corporation took too long to integrate and turnaround the financial performance.

During my visits after this major event occurred, I saw my dad spending hours slumped in a chair watching TV.  Here was a powerful strong man who had lots of money, yet there he sat, utterly deflated, depressed, lifeless, surrounded by meaningless decorative art and things.  He spent decades of his energy, passion, and time in an entity that one day decided he was no longer needed.

I asked myself why doesn’t he go enjoy the fruits of his labor and travel, write, read, or whatever he may find of interest.  He has no economic barriers to pursue something that he may be passionate about.  But there he sat, in that same chair, slumped over watching TV.

And it was at this point that I realized his dad might have never told him to go outside on a clear night when the moon was absent and look up at the stars to gain perspective.  And if he did, perhaps my dad simply ignored his advice.

Aphorisms on the Soul

1.  The difference between an impoverished account and an impoverished soul is that the former can be cured in an instant through a winning lottery ticket while the later takes a lifetime to enrich.

2.  The soul, or inner being, is really all we have in our possession when death rings the bell.  Those that have nurtured and enriched their inner being can gracefully welcome or honorably seek out death and offer him their honest bounty with a smile. Those that have forsaken their inner being have nothing to offer the dark prince and therefore die disgracefully — squirming and squealing like a stuck pig.