“Once you stop comparing yourself to others, you’ll be what you really are. Happiness is a sense of wholeness and completeness within yourself.”
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them,” is what I have often read and believed to be true.
Many attribute the second quote to Henry David Thoreau, saying it is taken from “Civil Disobedience and Other Essays.” Several scholars say, however, that it is an adaptation from Thoreau’s work, not from “Civil Disobedience,” but that the writing is taken loosely from his work, “Walden.”
“The second portion of the quote about going to the grave with the song still inside the human being, never sung, never enjoyed, and seldom shared is misattributed to Thoreau and may be a misquotation or misremembering of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ (1809-1894) ‘The Voiceless.’ There, Holmes penned, ‘Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them,’” wrote one literary scholar in his explanation of the matter.
I admit readily that I do not know whether the thought is accurately attributed or not, and perhaps you, our faithful readers, do not know for certain either. Most likely, you don’t really care. What I gleaned from these thoughts is something I have been thinking about off and on for weeks. Are we living in the moment and enjoying the good gifts we have, or are we all about having more, being more important to society, and having people think well of us?
Vince Gill, a really good country singer with a voice as soft as velvet, did a song a few years back titled “The Next Big Thing,” and I have observed adults, good people, young and old, educated and not, sick or well, that appear to be waiting constantly on the next big thing to happen in their lives. They are not happy where they are and can’t wait to get to the next stage or span of time.
I read another quote recently that I understand better today than I did years ago when I first read it for myself: “Too bad youth is wasted on the young.” I took it to mean that only as we age, for the most part, do we finally understand happiness, how to achieve it, what to turn loose of, and what to hold onto, and I fear some never reach this point.
I overheard a conversation of a very serious nature taking place recently between a husband and wife. The young wife seemingly packs more into any given week or day than she can possibly get done successfully. It seems that she is always waiting on the next big thing. She, in her own mind and conversation, pushes her children to grow up and move on in life. She intends to get a bigger and better house, even if it means putting the family budget in jeopardy. She has her eye on a new vehicle, a beautiful new diamond ring, and several trips. As she completes one of her cherished goals, she is already on the way to planning and executing the next one.
Why can’t we learn to live in the day? Why do we always want something bigger, better, richer, faster and smoother? Why can’t we understand that we put all of this pressure on ourselves to achieve, when in reality, we have a great life as it is?
Dreamers are exciting people, and it is never wrong to set goals and to seek to fulfill them. I am suggesting, however, that at some point, we need to start living our lives and enjoying them for what they are. Don’t dare die with that song bottled up inside of your soul and never know the joy of sharing it with others.
“This is the day which the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
I so fear that we are truly living lives of quiet desperation waiting on our “perfect” world to evolve. Let’s learn to enjoy the moment and dwell in peace and harmony.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.