Because when the chips are down, sometimes, you just have to listen to the advice of a bushy eyebrowed fellow with an outstanding moustache.
There are times in life we all have to face difficulties. As I have lived my life in a non-conventional way, my ups have been great, soaring peaks, little experienced by common mortals. And my downs have been smouldering craters that hit bedrock. In such times, the practical aspects of survival are of course important. Pivotal even, yet I have found from personal experience, that the human condition also requires a certain strength of spirit. In such times, in other words, when the shit has really hit the fan and most of it is out of your control, some people turn to prayer. Personally I have found two poems to be of comfort. Here is one of them, a classic that is more well-known than the other. And just to keep it entertaining, I have added my own little commentary to it too. If you are going through some difficulties, I hope this helps a little.
IF by Rudyard Kipling
(Commentary in red is mine)
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
Been there and done that. This is a little harder to do than may at first seem. Ultimately, I think I have my parents to thank for giving me a good sense of self esteem. Which if you are in doubt about, you should definitely watch this little clip from Katt Williams to set you right.
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
I think this has been a constant in life for me. It’s got to the point I am actually surprised when someone understands why/how I go about doing things the way I do. And this is despite some 40 years of pretty successful results doing things in my unconventional way. So, as long as you’re managing to achieve what you want, and not hurting anyone in the process, ignore the naysayers. Completely.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
These are both tough ones for me.
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
Surprisingly, this one I find easy.
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
I can’t help how good I look. Don’t you be hating the playa cause I look pimping, bitches. Jealousy is ugly see?
As for wisdom: No danger of that hitting me anytime soon.
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
Easily done if you don’t smoke weed. Reality has this brick-in-the-face ability to shock you out of your reveries.
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
No arm-chair philosophers need apply to the game of life in my book, so this is another easy one.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
I have found it a tad easier to deal with Triumph than Disaster, and I suspect I always will, but even so, there is some truth in this. It’s just that it’s easier to turn down groupies than it is to stand in line at the homeless shelter. But you know, maybe that’s just me.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
I fail dismally at this one. Can’t say I have much willpower to improve on this point much either.
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
Another tough one, but I have done
this more than once or twice, so I know I can. Still don’t enjoy the process though.
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
Done this a few times.
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
Done this too. A few less times luckily, but yeah. Definitely done this one.
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!’
Ah. My piece de resistance. It is probably this alone that has got me through all the rest. Some call it a strong mind, some persistence, character and other salutary things. In the end though, it may just come down to an unforgiving bloody mindedness.
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
Done both. Well, not a King yet, but definitely Oligarchs, Billionaires and Presidents.
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
More or less true. Sounds callous, but I think it’s one of the sanest ways of approaching life a man can have.
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
I don’t know. I always hope I have and am. I am not sure one can know until one dies. I always seem to think you could maybe just squeeze in a little more, but that’s no way to live either. It’s the hardest part of this poem for me I think. Probably because I sometimes take the “sixty seconds” too metaphorically. If it’s just sixty actual seconds, then I’m pretty sure I have always given it everything I had.
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
Which in the end, these days, may just add up to a slightly radioactive, polluted, cess-pit filled with politicians, lawyers, journalists and other blood and spirit sucking parasites that carry malignant and infectious diseases. But I’m an optimist.
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
Of course if you are ever in doubt about this, despite the testicles and large shlong hanging between your legs, then you have bigger problems than can be solved by a mere inspirational poem!