Tag Archives: Rudyard Kipling

Peaks and Valleys

Cult think (which includes religious, political, and self-help/positive thinking guru cliques) tends to be extremist in nature.  That includes either over-reacting to or ignoring entirely (read denial) high and low ends of the vicissitudes of life.  The highs can include all manner of self-congratulatory, hallucinatory-causation thinking.  “I thought it and it happened; I am god-like.”   The lows can include all manner of guilt, regret  and need to re-examine and even re-create oneself.  “Who am I really and who do I need to be?”

Far better I think to follow the great middle path.

Life’s peaks and valleys are as natural as the hills and dales of the landscape or the pull and repulsion of the subatomic dance making up the woof and warp of the universe.  Obsessing with owning them – positive or negative – and thus fixating on the result tends to park folks in peaks and valleys.  Meanwhile, atoms tango, breezes blow, currents flow, and life goes on.  One can choose to stagnate with rises and falls or one can choose to learn from them and evolve.

I believe that Rudyard Kipling captured the idea very well in his poem “If”, which includes this passage:

     If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

I believe that ‘If” is an effective antidote to cult thinking.  See for yourself:

 
If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!