No-one in the history of man has ever, I suspect, been able to do that entirely, and I write for those, like me, who are still searching and exploring. Those who have already found have scant need of most literature, and none at all of mine. If you are still searching, though, just maybe, some of these words may help in your quest.
The comments I have written to accompany the quotes are not invariably analyses of them. Often they are divergent thoughts spawned by the original.
I wrote ‘A Blog Oasis’ originally for a daughter. To avoid using the cumbersome, and tiresome, ‘he or she’, I therefore tended to use feminine pronouns.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Shakespeare, William, ‘Hamlet’, I, 3.
There seems to be a peculiar belief abroad that all we need to do with life’s axioms is to know of them; that, if we do, it must follow that we live by them. As if knowledge of a diet will, by itself, help us to shed weight.
Spiritual axioms are phrases that are capable of enhancing the quality of life. Mostly the goals they describe are unattainable and their value exists not in living by them but in trying to live by them.
They are, however, certainly not goals which are there for the thinking of them. They are skills. And like any skill they require practise and a certain amount of application. Both the joy and the value of most skills are in the journey and not the destination.
Of nothing is this more true than in this, possibly the greatest piece of advice ever given by a father to his offspring: ‘to thine own self be true’.
It may only be a phrase of six words, but it contains a lifetime’s worth of struggle.
For one thing, one’s ‘own self’ is not a constant. Just as my body changes over time so do my brain, my soul, my beliefs – everything. So being true to myself requires of me not the speed of a downhill skier but the agility and awareness of the slalom skier.
But it is, my darling, a wonderfully useful yardstick. And, when I brush my teeth at night, though I can use it as a scourge for those occasions when I wasn’t true to myself, this enjoinment is more useful as a bouquet: It enables me to cheer myself – especially on those occasions when (as it usually does) it has taken courage to be true to myself.
However miserable the rest of the day, if I can go to bed with that to cheer about, that day will eventually have been sealed as being a good day.
Let us make a commitment, you and I, that today we will recognise that we are worth being true to, and that we owe it to our worthy selves to be true to them.