I've posted this before in the prose forum, but I wanted to get it some exposure to more in-depth criticism.
I have elected to compose this short text so as to provide a source of hope to anxious and bitter people everywhere. It is not intended in the least to be a treatise on the way one ought to live in one's mind. Further I suspect that, were they presented with it, many would malign and attack the text written here firstly because it is far too specific to me and secondly because I am in no wise a man of distinction beyond that of a simple undergraduate degree from a university whose name is not even in the annals of the great educational institutions of the world. I am no Oxford graduate, nor am I a famous thinker. I have never explored a country beyond my own and a small portion of the United States. I could do little to convince the great minds of any field to change on any subject. And yet, my first act as author of this text is to take up the pen and compose it in spite of my lowly station.
My last act is not so much one of conviction concerning something I ought to do but rather one of refusal. I shall detail here a small set of things which I refuse to do with my time and with my life. These vices have come to me as a result of my careful observations of a man very close to me. He is a negative person, one filled with anxiety and depression. My observations of him have provided me no shortage of stone and mortar by which to throw up walls against the vices to which I shall turn. Perhaps these boundaries carved out of negation will serve better to illuminate the positive.
I do not wish to become a man obsessed with complaining for its own sake. I have seen this all too often in my friend and it brings about nothing but depression and despair. Let him wallow in his own filth and I shall set myself to work creating my life as a nobler and more splendid accomplishment. The complainers say what they will whilst the builders compose and construct to their hearts' content, enduring all the while what scorn and hardship fate sees fit to mete out as toll for crossing this prestigious bridge.
I do not wish to become a man obsessed with criticizing others. It is rather myself that I should criticize and that in a gentle way. To demean one's self is the lowest form of self talk and, sadly, the most common. Because I am not like that man, the reasoning goes, I am to be scoffed. Because I have not achieved what that other man has I am as a consequence less of a person. Because I experiment with technologies and set out upon quests of self improvement I am to be shunned for being stricken as I am with blotches of curiosity and ambition which colour my soul.
In place of self contempt, why can one not say instead, now here is a man who has achieved this greatness which would be of value to me? The fact that he has done it serves all the more as encouragement to me, for now I see that it can be done by a human being, a member of the race to which I belong. Why can I not look to that woman over there who, in spite of her depression, has produced some great work and use that as inspiration to proceed on in constructing what I see fit as my life's purpose unimpeded by her malady? And what is to prevent me from looking back upon the small set of tracks behind me at the close of each day and saying, now here is yet another portion mapped out with zeal and zest?
I do not wish to become a man concerned chiefly with labour for its own sake. Labour is a means to an end rather than an act of sacrifice before a brutal tyrant. If a man need work to achieve a goal or to remain alive then in heaven's name let him set himself to the task before him. But if he feels that because his father has demanded of him that he remain in some wise busy at every moment of his time then let his task be to throw off as promptly as possible the shackles of this foolish and stultifying doctrine. Let his work be a path to a destination which is his own rather than a sacrifice of time before a tyrant who threatens him with tongue lashings or worse for non-compliance.
I refuse to become a man so rigid in his thinking as to denounce as unworthy the result of an undertaking which was in some wise blemished. What man or woman is there who can execute a project with such perfection as to render the entire business without flaw? I will not do as my friend does, and point only to the flaws which reside in the implementation, ignoring the accomplishment.
Finally, I will take up these denunciations as guideposts on my journey through life. I will look to others and listen and watch for things which I might learn. But I will not hesitate in the end to follow the advice given Anselm on the day he was plunged into himself again and out of his fantasies. I shall refuse to follow another man in order that I might shirk my responsibility to myself.