A post by Amanda Patterson on Rudyard Kipling triggered a stream of thoughts this morning. Kipling was born yesterday in 1865. I couldn’t recall ever reading anything by Kipling but I’ve certainly heard of him. (DK. Mr. Contemporary. Always looking forward. Never much for history. Not much for looking back. What possibly could I learn from a life 100+ years ago? PAST IS PAST.)
Kipling, “born in India, was sent to England to live with a foster family and receive a formal British education at the age of 6. These were hard years for Kipling. His Foster mother was a brutal woman, who quickly grew to despise her young foster son. She beat and bullied Kipling, who also struggled to fit in at school. Kipling’s solace came in books and stories. With few friends, he devoted himself to reading. By the age of 11, Kipling was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A visitor to his home saw his condition and immediately contacted his mother, who rushed back to England and rescued her son from the Holloways.”
Yet, here’s a man who survived this childhood and flourished. He said:
Small miseries, like small debts, hit us in so many places, and meet us at so many turns and corners, that what they want in weight, they make up in number, and render it less hazardous to stand the fire of one cannon ball, than a volley composed of such a shower of bullets.
I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.
This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures.
And a man, who produced this poem in 1895:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—-and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
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!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—-which is more—-you’ll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling is considered to be one of the greatest writers who has ever lived. He was and remains the youngest writer to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Inspiration…look no further.