26 Mar

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

Rudyard Kipling wrote that in 1895, as a treatise on how to live your life. While he may have written it in the age of Victorian gentlemanly stoicism, it is just as applicable today as it was back then. Kipling truly was an inspirational man – poet, Nobel Laureate, author and thinker. Devastated by the loss of his son, John, at the Battle of Loos in 1915 in the First World War, he wrote the poem ‘My Boy Jack’ – one of the most heart-wrenching pieces of poetry ever written.

While Kipling died in 1936, his poetry and prose live on. And ‘If…’ is one of those that takes pride of place in the aforementioned quote book. It is more than just a poem, it is a lifestyle, a specific creed. When my  journey truly starts in May, I will be living by it. That and ‘Desiderata’ by Max Ehrmann (http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/%257Egongsu/desiderata_textonly.html).

Take inspiration from it! Take inspiration from everything! Ask the question: ‘Has my life been full of joy and has it brought joy to others?’ and will you look back on your brief time on Earth and be satisfied? You only live once, and I fully intend to live before I die!


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