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Nectar and Ambrosia

Nectar and Ambrosia should not be regarded as refreshment sacred only to festive occasions, but as human nature's daily food. It is the natural sustenance of life, not a luxury for an occasional holiday. It is the initial business and purpose of life to be happy; and, lest the moralist should object to this as a frivolous proposition, it may be added that it is that true happiness synonymous with holiness which is meant—the quality of happiness that manifests itself in abounding energy and good-will, that radiates exhilaration and enthusiasm. This state should be regarded as the normal condition of life; and when one is below it, he should inquire into the reason, and see if it is not a result of causes which can be removed or changed. No one has any more right to go about unhappy than he has to go about ill-bred. He owes it to himself, to his friends, to society and the community in general, to live up to his best spiritual possibilities, not only now and then, once or twice a year, or once in a season, but every day and every hour. The aim of spiritual perfection is one that should never be lost from view.

For this state of positive exhilaration and enjoyment, whose results are abounding energy and radiant good-will, no price is too great to pay. Emerson truly says that life is an ecstasy, and nothing less is really living. And to achieve this state requires new elements all the time. It may not always require change of location; material change is of little importance compared to that mental variety which is the secret of advancing life. To lay hold on new ideas, to climb to new spiritual heights, is the change which is growth and development, and which brings one into touch with new atmospheres.

To go about moping, depressed, blue, out of spirits in general, is to exist but not to live. It is the condition of a mollusk and unworthy a human being. Worry is a state of spiritual corrosion. A trouble either can be remedied, or it cannot. If it can be, then set about it; if it cannot be, dismiss it from consciousness, or bear it so bravely that it may become transfigured to a blessing.

A great deal of life is lost in getting ready, as is commonly believed, to live. To scorn delights and live laborious days; to bind one's self to an unceasing and unchanging routine, as Ixion to his wheel, for the sake of amassing money that some time, in a dim and abstract future, one may begin to live—is simply to attempt building a superstructure without a foundation. Life stretches on like an endless chain, whose initial links we know not, nor yet those to come. But that we are each day the sum of all that we ever have been is a truth as undeniable as any of exact mathematics. We cannot skip a single link. One act, one mood, predetermines another.

Man is his own star; and the soul that can
Render an honest and a perfect man,
Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
Nothing to him falls early or too late.
Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still.1

Now, happiness produces happiness. Enjoyment may be cultivated, and is, after all, largely a condition of habit. Precisely the same circumstances will yield delight to one and discontent to another, and no process of culture is so admirable as that which fosters the habitual mood of sunny enjoyment.

No price is too great to pay for the mood of inspiration. Draw out the money in the bank, if need be, and invest it in travel, change, books, social life; so shall its value return to you a thousand fold.

It will yield an interest on a richer investment than that of bank accounts; and not only interest, but interest compounded innumerable times and at an accelerated ratio. Acquire the habit of expecting success, of believing in happiness. Nothing succeeds like success; nothing makes happiness like happiness.

'The aim—at least in this way alone can I look at human life—is not to make rich and successful, but noble and enlightened men,' says Bishop Spaulding. 'Hence the final thought in all work is that we work not to have more, but to be more; not for higher place, but for greater worth; not for fame, but for knowledge. In a word, the final thought is that we labor to upbuild the being which we are, and not merely to build round our real self with marble and gold and precious stones. This is but the Christian teaching which has transformed the world. The end is infinite, the aim must be the highest. Not to know this, not to hear the heavenly invitation, is to be shut off from communion with the best, is to be cut off from the source of growth, is to be given over to modes of thought which fatally lead to mediocrity and vulgarity of life.'

This plane of living is that on which alone true work is done.

And the nectar and ambrosia are offered us daily. We have only to recognize and receive. Life is the result of a process of selection; and he only is the true artist who chooses the finer elements and out of them creates his World Beautiful.

Footnotes:

  1. Epilogue to Beaumont and Fletcher's Honest Man's Fortunes.

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Lilian Whiting

  • Born on October 3rd, 1859 in Niagara Falls, New York and died in 1942
  • Author and journalist
  • Edited The Boston Traveler and The Boston Budget

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