Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

It is the tunnel which makes the light at the end of it beautiful
Diego Rivera, Melancholy Promenade, 1904
Thomasina: “Oh, Septimus! — can you bear it? All the lost plays of the Athenians! Two hundred at least by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides — thousands of poems — Aristotle’s own library! … How can we sleep for grief?”
Septimus: “By counting our stock. Seven plays from Aeschylus, seven from Sophocles, nineteen from Euripides, my lady! You should no more grieve for the rest than for a buckle lost from your first shoe, or for your lesson book which will be lost when you are old. We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?”

— Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Do you take stock, regularly, of what you are carrying in your arms, Gentle Reader? Do you take care to pick up and discard the right things, things which make you happy and proud to carry? Do you seek out and cultivate those things you will be pleased to press into the arms of companions who go on without you? Things they will be eager to carry themselves? Love, knowledge, kindness, and wisdom are big things, things which fill up your arms and your soul, but paradoxically weigh next to nothing: they are easy to carry. They make excellent gifts to bequeath at the end of your long journey.

Keep your eyes on the road before you. Stay alert for good things to add to your burden. Those are the legacy you will contribute to the march. That is how we will remember you.

It’s time to go back to work.

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