Prepare for the worst and hope for the best
Feb 13 2014
I had an uncle who once told me, “When I work I work as though everything depends on me, and when I pray I pray as if everything depends on God.” He taught me the virtue of dealing with little things in life, the bigger issues will fall in line, he said. If a problem rears its head, tackle it now. So you can move on to other things. For example, he said, punctuality shows you respect my time and yours. Look at the clock like precision of nature, he told me. Scientists can calculate to a fraction of a second the arrival of a certain planet in a certain position in the heavens.
He said life is how you look at it. Imagine you are looking at a work of art. If you are looking out always for its defects then you might miss its beauty. Like the anecdote of the two men watching a play. One was extolling the merits of the play and the other man, a critic, said, “You have not mentioned any of its flaws!” “No,” said the former, “I get the most out of life in looking for the best.”
Ofcourse, there is so much that is ugly and wrong in the world around us. It depends where you train your eye to rest. For example, lets say two people are tearing the reputation of a common friend to shreds. Its best to turn away and not be a participant. Why have ears for the unpleasant and the ugly?
Also it is my view that great adventures, great creations, great discoveries are usually born out of great difficulty. Most of us make the mistake of wishing for the difficulty go away, forgetting it is in this struggle that victory lies. It is in walking fire that character is forged. Nothing is worth having if it comes easily.
Life is complex. It needs to be viewed with a calmness (which is what I am working at still...) When a difficulty arises, it must be dealt with. Yet we worry so much about it. That often leads to staining today’s blue sky with tomorrow’s dark clouds. Whereas tomorrow the clouds may just disperse and the sun shine through, bright and bold. Inspiration lies all around us, we just need to be open to it.
It is absolutely true that the harder choice of action is the correct one. Often to choose to do a difficult task takes courage. This then leads to good judgement. There is the old story of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who always took calculated risks risks in battle. Both at the Nile and Trafalgar, he exposed part of the British fleet to severe punishment in order to gain tactical position, which would undermine his enemy. He trusted the skill of his captains, the courage of his men and they of his judgement.
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best!
(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)