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12 Secrets of a better life

Mark Oestreicher posted this list from clyde s. kilby, a professor of English, who taught at Wheaton for 46 years. Great wisdom here. 1. at least once a day i shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that i, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with ever…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Mark Oestreicher posted this list from clyde s. kilby, a professor of English, who taught at Wheaton for 46 years. Great wisdom here.

1. at least once a day i shall look steadily up at the sky and
remember that i, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet
traveling in space with everlastingly mysterious things above and about
me.

2. instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless
evolutionary movement to which i can neither add nor subtract, i shall
suppose the universe guided by an intelligence which (as aristotle said
of greek drama) requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. i think
this will save me from the cynicism expressed by bertrand russell
before his death, when he said: “there is darkness without, and when i
die there will be darkness within. there is no splendor, no vastness
anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.”

3. i shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is
merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a
unique opportunity filled, if i so wish, with worthy potentialities.

4. i shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are
wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely, ladders to
be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

5. i shall not turn my life into a thin straight line, which prefers
abstractions to reality. i shall know what i am doing when i abstract,
which of course i shall often have to do.

6. i shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. i shall
stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social
categories i might belong to. mostly i shall simply forget about myself
and do my work.

7. i shall open my eyes and ears. once every day i shall simply
stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. i shall not then be
concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are.
i shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what lewis calls their
“divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

8. i shall sometimes look back at the freshness of the vision i had
in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words
of lewis carroll, the “child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming
eyes of wonder.”

9. i shall follow darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative
things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as lewis
suggests, an old book and timeless music.

10. i shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp
all my energies but will instead, as charles williams suggested,
“fulfill the moment as the moment.” i shall try to keep truly alive now
just because the only time that exists is now.

11. if for nothing more than the sake of a change of view, i shall
assume my ancestry to be from the heavens rather than from the caves.

12. even if i turn out to be wrong, i shall bet my life on the
assumption that this world is not idiotic, but that today, this very
day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course
i shall understand, with joy, as a stroke made my the architect who
calls himself alpha and omega.

Comments (5)

  • Thanks for these powerful reminders. It was my joy at Wheaton College to have a class and a few one-on-one cups of tea with Dr. Kilby. He seemed like something out of a Tolkien missive and had a memorable yet restrained laugh. I distinctly remember him asking me a question in the midst of a far too frenetic and sometimes wearisome campus lifestyle…”Butch…what gives you joy?” I stole the conversational gambit and ask that question of others often. Recently I have been pressing deeper into my own answer. This was a delight. Kudos.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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