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The world we have been born into is the only world we have. Our world today is the most unpredictable, turbulent, changeable and dangerous world in which man has ever lived. It is also the most adventurous. We cannot stop the world and get off. We cannot escape its problems and pressures. Our challenge is to face up heroically to the world as it is and to do our very best to make the most of our lives. To strive to live each day with serenity and courage. To develop a creative faith for these times. To hang on to the unshakeable things in life. To preserve a personal world of sanity and maturity amidst the outer world of confusion. To contribute the humble ounces of our weight to help tip the scale towards all that we deem good in our common life.
On one of my birthdays my daughter had sent me a birthday card on which she had written a personal note. "Dear Dad," it said, "I hope you live all your life." Thatís about it. There are no guarantees, no infallible guards against danger and disease, no positive security. Our objective should be to live, really live, all the days of our lives, through joys, disasters, threats, sunshine and storm. To make the most of our lives ?this is the very heart of the art of living.
Sigmund Freud once wrote a letter to Princess Marie Bonaparte in which he said: "The moment a man questions the meaning and value of life, he is sick." In all our ups and downs it is essential that we continue to believe in life and its possibilities, in its improvability, in the miracles that can come to pass. Life opens up for those who hold an attitude of creative expectancy of good.
I think one of the finest examples of a man who made the most of each moment and lived all his life was St. Francis of Assisi. Once someone came to this master of the art of living while he was working in his garden, and asked: "Brother Francis, what would you do if you were suddenly told that the world would come to an end at sunset today?" St. Francis didnít hesitate for a moment. His answer was clear and simple: "I would go on hoeing my garden."
To live life fully, completely, bravely, straight through to the end... this is to make an art of life. To make the most of ourselves we must become aware of the miracles all around us. We must open our eyes, ears, minds, hearts, spirits. We must think about great ideas such as space illimitable, time everlasting, energy inexhaustible. You have the magic power within yourself to broaden your horizon, to lift your consciousness, to live more abundantly.
Each day is a lifetime in miniature. To awaken each morning is to be born again; to fall asleep at night is to die to the day. In between waking and sleeping are the golden hours of the day. What we cannot do for a lifetime we can do for a daytime. "Anyone," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, "can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down." Anyone can hold his temper for a day and guard the words he speaks. Anyone can carry his burden heroically for a day. Anyone can strive to be happy for a day and to spread happiness. Anyone can radiate love for a day. Anyone can rise above fear for a day and meet each situation with courage. Anyone can be kind and thoughtful and considerate for a day. Anyone can endeavour to learn something new each day and mark some growth. When we fail and fall short, let us forgive ourselves and consider the words of Emerson: "Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you will begin it well and with too high a spirit to be cumbered by your old nonsense." Live a day at a time and remember that tomorrow is another today.
Heed the wisdom of the ancient Chinese seer who observed: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," and take that step today. Develop an awareness of the infinite possibilities in each magic moment and enlarge the now by pouring into it intense creative energy. Aspire to excel in your chosen work by adopting the creed of the makers of the immortal Stradivarius violins: "Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well."
The key to unlocking the treasures in the art of living, the secret of adding a new dimension to your life, is simply this: "Hold an adventurous mental attitude." Adventure begins with you, personally. It is the way you look at things. It is the mental stance you take as you face your day. It is finding magic in things. It is talking with people and discovering their inner goodness. It is the thrill of feeling a part of the life around you. When you have an adventurous attitude you seek adventure not only outside yourself, but also within. You seek to find out who you are, where you came from, what you are here for, and how you relate to other people and to the universe. You adventure deep within yourself. It resurrects your ideals; it raises hope from the grave and sings a song of triumph. It is enduring, eternal, everlasting. It is the immortal quality in you that can never be defeated. It goes on for ever.
Sam F. Ayem