The Majesty of
Calmness is the rarest quality in
life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its
ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-centred,
self-reliant, and self-controlled. Calmness is singleness of purpose,
absolute confidence, and conscious power,--ready to be focused in an
instant to meet any crisis.
The Sphinx is not a true type of
calmness,--petrifaction is not calmness; it is death, the silencing of
all the energies; while no one lives his life more fully, more
intensely and more consciously than the man who is calm.
The Fatalist is not calm. He is
coward slave of his environment, hopelessly surrendering to his present
condition, recklessly indifferent to his future. He accepts his life as
a rudderless ship, drifting on the ocean of time. He has no compass, no
chart, no known port to which he is sailing. His self-confessed
inferiority to all nature is shown in his existence of constant
surrender. It is not,--calmness.
The man who is calm has his
life clearly marked on his chart. His hand is ever on the helm. Storm,
fog, night, tempest, danger, hidden reefs,--he is ever prepared and
ready for them. He is made calm and serene by the realization that in
these crises of his voyage he needs a clear mind and a cool head; that
he has naught to do but to do each day the best he can by the light he
has; that he will never flinch nor falter for a moment; that, though he
may have to tack and leave his course for a time, he will never drift,
he will get back into the true channel, he will keep ever headed toward
his harbor. When he will reach it, how he will reach
it, matters not to him. He rests in calmness, knowing he has done his
best. If his best seem to be overthrown or overruled, then he must
still bow his head,--in calmness. To no man is permitted to know the
future of his life, the finality. God commits to man ever only new
beginnings, new wisdom, and new days to use the best of his knowledge.
Calmness comes ever from within.
the peace and restfulness of the depths of our nature. The fury of
storm and of wind agitate only the surface of the sea; they can
penetrate only two or three hundred feet,--below that is the calm,
unruffled deep. To be ready for the great crises of life we must learn
serenity in our daily living. Calmness is the crown of self-control.
When the worries and cares of the
fret you, and begin to wear upon you, and you chafe under the
friction,--be calm. Stop, rest for a moment, and let calmness and peace
assert themselves. If you let these irritating outside influences get
the better of you, you are confessing your inferiority to them, by
permitting them to dominate you. Study the disturbing elements, each by
itself, bring all the will power of your nature to bear upon them, and
you will find that they will, one by one, melt into nothingness, like
vapors fading before the sun. The glow of calmness that will then
pervade your mind, the tingling sensation of an inflow of new strength,
may be to you the beginning of the revelation of the supreme calmness
that is possible for you. Then, in some great hour of your life, when
you stand face to face with some awful trial, when the structure of
your ambition and life-work crumbles in a moment, you will be brave.
You can then fold your arms calmly, look out undismayed and undaunted
upon the ashes of your hope, upon the wreck of what you have faithfully
built, and with brave heart and unfaltering voice you may say: "So let
it be,--I will build again."
When the tongue of malice and
the persecution of inferiority, tempts you for just a moment to
retaliate, when for an instant you forget yourself so far as to hunger
for revenge,--be calm. When the grey heron is pursued by its enemy, the
eagle, it does not run to escape; it remains calm, takes a dignified
stand, and waits quietly, facing the enemy unmoved. With the terrific
force with which the eagle makes its attack, the boasted king of birds
is often impaled and run through on the quiet, lance-like bill of the
heron. The means that man takes to kill another's character becomes
suicide of his own.
No man in the world ever
wrong another without being injured in return,--someway, somehow,
sometime. The only weapon of offence that Nature seems to recognize is
the boomerang. Nature keeps her books admirably; she puts down every
item, she closes all accounts finally, but she does not always balance
them at the end of the month. To the man who is calm, revenge is so far
beneath him that he cannot reach it,--even by stooping. When injured,
he does not retaliate; he wraps around him the royal robes of Calmness,
and he goes quietly on his way.
When the hand of Death touches
we hold dearest, paralyzes our energy, and eclipses the sun of our
life, the calmness that has been accumulating in long years becomes in
a moment our refuge, our reserve strength.
The most subtle of all
the seeming success of the wicked. It requires moral courage to
see, without flinching, material prosperity coming to men who are
dishonest; to see politicians rise into prominence, power and wealth by
trickery and corruption; to see virtue in rags and vice in velvets; to
see ignorance at a premium, and knowledge at a discount. To the man who
is really calm these puzzles of life do not appeal. He is living his
life as best he can; he is not worrying about the problems of justice,
whose solution must be left to Omniscience to solve.
When man has developed the spirit
Calmness until it becomes so absolutely part of him that his very
presence radiates it, he has made great progress in lite. Calmness
cannot be acquired of itself and by itself; it must come as the
culmination of a series of virtues. What the world needs and what
individuals need is a higher standard of living, a great realizing
sense of the privilege and dignity of life, a higher and nobler
conception of individuality.
With this great sense of calmness
permeating an individual, man becomes able to retire more into himself,
away from the noise, the confusion and strife of the world, which come
to his ears only as faint, far-off rumblings, or as the tumult of the
life of a city heard only as a buzzing hum by the man in a balloon.
The man who is calm does not
isolate himself from the world, for he is intensely interested in all
that concerns the welfare of humanity. His calmness is but a Holy of
Holies into which he can retire from the world to get strength to live
in the world. He realizes that the full glory of individuality, the
crowning of his self-control is,--the majesty of calmness.
Hurry, the Scourge of America
The first sermon in the world was
preached at the Creation. It was a Divine protest against Hurry. It was
a Divine object lesson of perfect law, perfect plan, perfect order,
perfect method. Six days of work carefully planned, scheduled and
completed were followed by,--rest. Whether we accept the story as
literal or as figurative, as the account of successive days or of ages
comprising millions of years, matters little if we but learn the lesson.
Nature is very un-American.
never hurries. Every phase of her working shows plan, calmness,
reliability, and the absence of hurry. Hurry always implies lack of
definite method, confusion, impatience of slow growth. The Tower of
Babel, the world's first skyscraper, was a failure because of hurry.
The workers mistook their arrogant ambition for inspiration. They had
too many builders,--and no architect. They thought to make up the lack
of a head by a superfluity of hands. This is a characteristic of Hurry.
It seeks ever to make energy a substitute for a clearly defined
plan,--the result is ever as hopeless as trying to transform a
hobby-horse into a real steed by brisk riding.
Hurry is a counterfeit of haste.
has an ideal, a distinct aim to be realized by the quickest, direct
methods. Haste has a single compass upon which it relies for direction
and in harmony with which its course is determined. Hurry says: "I must
move faster. I will get three compasses; I will have them different; I
will be guided by all of them. One of them will probably be right."
Hurry never realizes that slow, careful foundation work is the quickest
in the end.
Hurry has ruined more Americans
has any other word in the vocabulary of life. It is the scourge of
America; and is both a cause and a result of our high-pressure
civilization. Hurry adroitly assumes so many masquerades of disguise
that its identity is not always recognized.
Hurry always pays the highest
everything, and, usually the goods are not delivered. In the race for
wealth men often sacrifice time, energy, health, home, happiness and
honor,--everything that money cannot buy, the very things that money
can never bring back. Hurry is a phantom of paradoxes. Business men, in
their desire to provide for the future happiness of their family, often
sacrifice the present happiness of wife and children on the altar of
Hurry. They forget that their place in the home should be something
greater than being merely "the man that pays the bills;" they expect
consideration and thoughtfulness that they are not giving.
We hear too much of a wife's
a husband and too little of the other side of the question. "The wife,"
they tell us, "should meet her husband with a smile and a kiss, should
tactfully watch his moods and be ever sweetness and sunshine." Why this
continual swinging of the censer of devotion to the man of business?
Why should a woman have to look up with timid glance at the face of her
husband, to "size up his mood"? Has not her day, too, been one of care,
and responsibility, and watchfulness? Has not mother-love been working
over perplexing problems and worries of home and of the training of the
children that wifely love may make her seek to solve in secret? Is man,
then, the weaker sex that he must be pampered and treated as tenderly
as a boil trying to keep from contact with the world?
In their hurry to attain some
to gratify the dream of a life, men often throw honor, truth, and
generosity to the winds. Politicians dare to stand by and see a city
poisoned with foul water until they "see where they come in" on a
water-works appropriation. If it be necessary to poison an army,--that,
too, is but an incident in the hurry for wealth.
This is the Age of the Hothouse.
element of natural growth is pushed to one side and the hothouse and
the force-pump are substituted. Nature looks on tolerantly as she says:
"So far you may go, but no farther, my foolish children."
The educational system of to-day
monumental institution dedicated to Hurry. The children are forced to
go through a series of studies that sweep the circle of all human
wisdom. They are given everything that the ambitious ignorance of the
age can force into their minds; they are taught everything but the
essentials,--how to use their senses and how to think. Their minds
become congested by a great mass of undigested facts, and still the
cruel, barbarous forcing goes on. You watch it until it seems you
cannot stand it a moment longer, and you instinctively put out your
hand and say: "Stop! This modern slaughter of the Innocents must not
go on!" Education smiles suavely, waves her hand complacently toward
her thousands of knowledge-prisons over the country, and says: "Who are
you that dares speak a word against our sacred, school system?"
Education is in a hurry. Because she fails in fifteen years to do what
half the time should accomplish by better methods, she should not be
too boastful. Incompetence is not always a reason for pride. And they
hurry the children into a hundred textbooks, then into ill-health, then
into the colleges, then into a diploma, then into life,--with a dazed
mind, untrained and unfitted for the real duties of living.
Hurry is the deathblow to
dignity, to poise. The old-time courtesy went out when the new-time
hurry came in. Hurry is the father of dyspepsia. In the rush of our
national life, the bolting of food has become a national vice. The
words "Quick Lunches" might properly be placed on thousands of
headstones in our cemeteries. Man forgets that he is the only animal
that dines; the others merely feed. Why does he abrogate his right to
dine and go to the end of the line with the mere feeders? His
self-respecting stomach rebels, and expresses its indignation by
indigestion. Then man has to go through life with a little bottle of
pepsin tablets in his vest-pocket. He is but another victim to this
craze for speed. Hurry means the breakdown of the nerves. It is the
royal road to nervous prostration.
Everything that is great in life
product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler
the work, the slower is its growth, the surer is its lasting success.
Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades. A
fad lives its life in a few weeks; a philosophy lives through
generations and centuries. If you are sure you are right, do not let
the voice of the world, or of friends, or of family swerve you for a
moment from your purpose. Accept slow growth if it must be slow, and
know the results must come, as you would accept the long,
lonely hours of the night,--with absolute assurance that the
heavy-leaded moments must bring the morning.
Let us as individuals banish the
"Hurry" from our lives. Let us care for nothing so much that we would
pay honor and self-respect as the price of hurrying it. Let us
cultivate calmness, restfulness, poise, sweetness,--doing our best,
bearing all things as bravely as we can; living our life undisturbed by
the prosperity of the wicked or the malice of the envious. Let us not
be impatient, chafing at delay, fretting over failure, wearying over
results, and weakening under opposition. Let us ever turn our face
toward the future with confidence and trust, with the calmness of a
life in harmony with itself, true to its ideals, and slowly and
constantly progressing toward their realization.
Let us see that cowardly word
all its most degenerating phases, let us see that it ever kills truth,
loyalty, thoroughness; and let us determine that, day by day, we will
seek more and more to substitute for it the calmness and repose of a
true life, nobly lived.
The Majesty of Calmness
by William G. Jordan
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