Tag Archives: meaning of life

To make this world a better place

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To make this world a better place –
the only thing I have to do.
In bitter hearts to leave a hopeful trace,
To make this world a better place –
This life in full to live, embrace.
Though happy moments, they are so few.
To make this world a better place –
the only thing I have to do.

*Painting “A Digger” by Vincent van Gogh, 1881.

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A great joy and happiness*

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It was in the autumn of 1826. I was in a dull state of nerves, such as everybody is occasionally liable to; unsusceptible to enjoyment or pleasurable excitement; one of those moods when what is pleasure at other times, becomes insipid or indifferent; the state, I should think, in which converts to Methodism usually are, when smitten by their first “conviction of sin.” In this frame of mind it occurred to me to put the question directly to myself: “Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?” And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, “No!” At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.

*The passage above comes from the Autobiography of John Stuart Mill.

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My heart is hard and I do not care

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When I was young,
my hopes were high and my dreams were big,
my blood was hot and boiling,
and the weather outside was shiny and bright.
The world seemed splendid and nice,
and the future as golden as face of the sun.
But as time passed by,
my hopes vanished as dust and smoke.
All that was sacred and beautiful before,
now died cold and alone.
My thirst for wisdom and glory
remained empty and vain.
The godly images became gloomy and pale,
as no seed sown in faith
brought forth a berry,
only weeds were left.
And now I despise the worldly things,
because I see that all is nightmare and trifle.
Whether it’s happiness or misery, sorrows or joys,
my heart is hard and I do not care.

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What is life, anyway?*

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What is life, anyway? For that is a practical question. What is it that we should prize it so highly? Do any of you dare tell the truth to yourselves? There is not a person in this audience that dares tell himself the truth about life. Do you remember the story- I believe it came from Homer- about some shipwrecked mariners who were cast upon an island. And, in that island was a great giant with one eye, and that eye had been put out. But, somehow or other, he managed to get all these people into an iron cage, and; every morning he would come out for breakfast, run his arms into the iron cage and feel this one and that one to see which was the fattest, take him off and cook him for breakfast. No one knew whose turn would come next. Each one knew that his time was near, that he might be next. That is life, isn’t it? A great insane, purposeless, uncontrolled, uncontrollable, hand, reaching down, without though or design or pity, taking this and that, as the case may be, inevitable, unfailingly, and yet we are optimists! Do you want to live your lives over, any of you! Would I want to? Would anybody want to? There might be vagrant parts of my life, strong sensations, pleasant memories. But barring those, the time I would want to live over, would be the time I was asleep- that is the time I was dead- that is all. And every weary person comes home at night happy in the thought that he can sleep. And if he cannot sleep without it, he takes dope to make him sleep, because forgetfulness is the best of all. Continue reading

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To whom all the roses nod and all the stars wink…*

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I remember reading a while ago a statement of Anatole France. He said that the chief business of life is “killing time.” And so it is. What is the difference if we gather all the facts of the universe into our brains for the worms to eat? They might give the worms indigestion. What matters it how much we get together? It lasts but a short time. It never brings what we expect. All we get from it is the self-forgetfulness that comes from gathering it. We get from the gleaning the loss of self-consciousness, which after all is the only thing that makes life tolerable to the ordinary person, or the extraordinary for that matter. One can imagine nothing more tiresome and profitless than sitting down and thinking of one’s self. If you are bound to work and cannot avoid work, and can be lost in the work, it is the most tolerable life after all that one can have. Now, I never was industrious. I could prove that by a number of people here tonight. Still, I have always worked. Some task is always waiting for me and someone always calling to me. And I could not avoid the task or ignore the call. So the sixty-one years of my life have slipped by and I have scarcely known it. Continue reading

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