To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep…

This blog is typically about photo­graphy and all things related.

Today, it is not. When the trip counter of your life says “half a century”, you are entitled to get a bit more personal. Even senti­mental, I suppose.

Yes, I had a birthday two days ago. Five decades of life lived. Celebrated it very simply: paella and sangria on a terrace at sunset in the small village of Guarachico (on the north coast of Tenerife). In the morning rented a Laser and went sailing on the Atlantic — first time on a Laser in I guess 35 years. Enjoyed every minute of it. Pretty hefty breeze and decent waves… You should have seen the guy who rented it to me, he looked me up and down for a long time with a pretty serius face: “So how much experience do you have with these things you say.…?”

But anyway. I am supposed to say something intel­ligent. Words of wisdom. From the high hills of my mature years. Me? Right… I have been thinking about it for a while now — and all that seems to fill my head is intel­ligent things others have said. So I thought I share some of those.

The opening quote was W.B. Yeates… maybe more appropriate in my case would have been Robert Frost and his tale of choosing the road less travelled. But “I save it for another day” — as he said himself.

Henry David Thoreau made a lasting impression in my more vulne­rable years — maybe the line most appropriate today is this one (from Walden):

…I wished to live delibe­rately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” 

But: I don’t know if it is the fact that I am in a Spanish speaking country presently or what, but for the past two weeks I have been thinking about something I was intro­duced to like quarter of a century ago by a very dear friend. The brilliant credo of Aquiles Nazoa, a venezuelan author, poet and journalist (if you don’t read Spanish, here’s Finnish translation)

CREO en Pablo Picasso, todopo­deroso, creador del cielo y de la tierra.

CREO en Charlie Chaplin, hijo de las violetas y de los ratones, que fue cruci­ficado, muerto y sepultado por el tiempo, pero que cada dia resucita en el corazón de los hombres.

CREO en el amor y en el arte como vias hacia el disfrute de la vida perdurable.

CREO en los grillos que pueblan la noche de mágicos cristales.

CREO en el amolador que vive de fabricar estrellas de oro con su rueda maravillosa.

CREO en la cualidad aérea del ser humano, confi­gurada en el recuerdo de Isadora Duncan abatiéndose como una purisima paloma herida bajo el cielo del Mediterráneo.

CREO en las monedas de chocolate que atesoro secre­ta­mente bajo la almohada de mi niñez.

CREO en la fábula de Orfeo, creo en el sorti­legio de la música, yo que en las horas de mi angustia vi al conjuro de la Pavana de Fauré, salir libertada y radiante a la dulce Euridice del inferno de mi alma.

CREO en Rainer Maria Rilke, héroe de la lucha del hombre por la belleza, que sacrificó su vida al acto de cortar una rosa para una mujer.

CREO en las flores que brotaron del cadaver adolecente de Ofelia.

CREO en el llanto silencioso de Aquiles frente al mar, creo en el barco esbelto y distantísimo que salió hace un siglo al encuentro de la aurora ; su capitán Lord Byron, al cinto la espada de los arcán­geles, y junto a sus sienes un resplandor de estrellas.

CREO en el perro de Ulises, en el gato risueño de Alicia en el Pais de las Maravillas, en el loro de Robinson Crusoe, en los ratoncitos que tiraron del coche de la Cenicienta, en Beralfiro el caballo de Rolando, y en las abejas que labraron su colmena dentro del corazón de Martin Tinajero.

CREO en la amistad como el invento más bello del hombre.

CREO en los poderes creadores del pueblo.

CREO en la poesía y en fin

CREO en mí mismo, puesto que sé que hay alguien que me ama.

I mean: there is a reason why it is called “a credo” — what else is there to say?

I should leave it with this, I really should.… but let me finish with one more great one — maybe a bit obvious one, but a great one never the less : the ending of Ulysses by Tennyson.

Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Sounds like worth taking with for the years to come, doesn’t it?

8 Replies to “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”

  1. Just before his death Sir John Betjeman, aged 77, was asked in an interview if he had any regrets. 

    He replied, ‘ I wish I’d had more sex.’


  2. Before the great singer/songwriter Warren Zevon was taken from us by mesot­he­lioma, he was asked if he had any great words of wisdom. He replied, “Enjoy every sandwich”.
    You know? There really is something to be said for a great sandwich.

    PS And thanks for all the fish.

    1. And I have to add… my (profes­sional) dilemma is that majority of people I work with think ice-hockey is really important and know all about it… and they (typically) totally miss the “thanks for all the fish”.… But as they say: all genera­liza­tions are false :-)

      Good talking to you, young man.

  3. Top five regrets of the dying

    A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?”

    1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

    2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

    3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

    4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

    5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

    1. Thank you Olli for sharing -

      read the article… makes you think doesn’t it? But hey, not about to kick the bucket yet, hopefully not anytime soon at least. I gave these a serious thought. I think I’ve done pretty well in the first three, but I fail miserably in four (friends) and also maybe in five.…
      Gotta do something about these. As your reference article said: these are just choices.

  4. Well, I remember when I was your age, lad. It was a heady, wonderful time when North Korea had not yet launched its’ missile and Nokia stock price was clearly over three euros.
    I mean, of course, the bygone era of last Monday.

    Yes, 50 seems so young now. Enjoy it while it lasts.



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