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If - by RK

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

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)

Image Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - Rudyard Kipling at his desk

Since last week, I've been blessed with a lot of beautiful souls reaching out to me to hear my story and share theirs! When I had written the post last week, I had a complete blueprint of what my next five posts look like, and quite a few words had been penned down that were bitingly truthful. They still stand, peeking out at me from the drafts like curious lion cubs, wondering why they are not seeing the light this Sunday. To them, I offer the greatest mountain in my path to conquer - "Patience".

You see, I had a very interesting conversation yesterday. One about survival as a human and the role of nature vs nurture in survival. A very thought-provoking spar in all respects - science, spirituality, philosophy, art, culture and more. Since then, I'm able to almost taste the essence of survival but for the life of it, haven't been able recreate it in a palatable dish. This is where Rudyard Kipling comes in.

The poem "If-" by Rudyard Kipling was a part of the collection - "Rewards and Fairies" published in 1910. Rudyard Kipling is thought to have written this poetry for his son while drawing inspiration from the failed Jameson raid of 1895-6. There has yet to be one of such resonance and acclaim. This poetry has a chant like quality, almost like a mantra, and was once suggested to be a distillation of the Bhagavad Gita into English. This is a poetry about stoicism, humility in the face of all "Triumph" and "Disaster", and could be said to enlist the virtues of an ideal human.

In times of abject strife, or even unquestionable victory, we often lose perspective. Our minds cannot comprehend beyond their own selves; everything that happens in nurture (environment around us) feels like a personal attack or maybe a single-handed achievement. This poetry offers us an alternative mindset, thought-pattern, way of being - one that asks us to observe, but not react; to understand, but not internalize, to put in efforts, but not be disappointed at the results..

I've appreciated and revered this piece since several years now, but only recently have I been able to understand it and work towards embodying it. This Sunday, I share with you an immortal friend. Happy Sunday.

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