Hearing wisdom and knowing wisdom are two different things. The usual human experience is to hear a thing, remark on its insight, and then shove it away in some dark closet of our minds, where it is forgotten and fruitless. As a way of keeping myself grounded and reminded, and helping interested others to do so, I’d like to start sharing quotes or verses on human flourishing on a regular basis.
Kicking off the series is an old friend, Robert G. Ingersoll. This is from his “A Lay Sermon“. Ingersoll was famous in his time (the latter 19th century) for his talents as an orator, speaking on religious skepticism, Shakespeare, politics, and the human condition in general.
“The first thing a man wants to know and be sure of is when he has got enough. Most people imagine that the rich are in heaven, but, as a rule, it is only a gilded hell. There is not a man in the city of New York with genius enough, with brains enough, to own five millions of dollars. Why? The money will own him. He becomes the key to a safe. That money will get him up at daylight; that money will separate him from his friends; that money will fill his heart with fear; that money will rob his days of sunshine and his nights of pleasant dreams. He cannot own it. He becomes the property of that money. And he goes right on making more. What for? He does not know. It becomes a kind of insanity. No one is happier in a palace than in a cabin. I love to see a log house. It is associated in my mind always with pure, unalloyed happiness. It is the only house in the world that looks as though it had no mortgage on it. It looks as if you could spend there long, tranquil autumn days; the air filled with serenity; no trouble, no thoughts about notes, about interest — nothing of the kind; just breathing free air, watching the hollyhocks, listening to the birds and to the music of the spring that comes like a poem from the earth.”