November 21, 2018

“The Majesty of Calmness” – a must read during the High Holidays

I recommend highly a little book first published in 1898 called “The Majesty of Calmness” by William George Jordan, an American editor, lecturer and essayist of the late 19th and early 20th century.

This 62-page treasure-trove of common-sense wisdom reminds me of the Biblical Book of Proverbs and the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible. It was written in an elegant prose that exists in classical works.

This series of seven short essays is particularly appropriate reading during the coming ten days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: “The Majesty of Calmness;” “Hurry, the Scourge of America;” “The Power of Personal Influence;” “The Dignity of Self-Reliance;” “Failure of Success;” “Doing our Best at All Times;” “The Royal Road to Happiness.”

I offer a few short passages from each of the essays that offer a taste of what you will find in this remarkable series of essays:

“Calmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-centered, self-reliant, and self-controlled.” (p. 1)

“Nature is very un-American. Nature never hurries. Every phase of her working shows plan, calmness, reliability, and the absence of hurry…Hurry has ruined more Americans than has any other word in the vocabulary of life….In the race for wealth, people often sacrifice time, energy, health, home, happiness, and honor, –everything that money cannot buy, the very things that money can never bring back.” (pps. 8, 9, 10)

“Self-confidence, without self-reliance, is as useless as a cooking recipe, –without food. Self-confidence sees the possibilities of the individual; self-reliance realizes them. Self-confidence sees the angel in the unhewn block of marble; self-reliance carves it out for himself.” (p. 23)

“Many of our failures sweep us to greater heights of success than we ever hoped for in our wildest dreams. Life is a successive unfolding of success from failure…Failure is often the turning-point, the pivot of circumstance that swings us to higher levels…Failure is one of God’s educators.” (pp. 33, 35, 36)

“Living at one’s best is constant preparation for instant use. It can never make one over precise, self-conscious, affected, or priggish. Education, in its highest sense, is conscious training of mind or body to act unconsciously. It is conscious formation of mental habits, not mere acquisition of information.” (p. 46)

“Happiness is the greatest paradox in Nature. It can grow in any soil, live under any conditions. It defies environment. It comes from within: it is the revelation of the depths of the inner life as light and heat proclaim the sun from which they radiate. Happiness consists not of having, but of being; not of possessing, but of enjoying. It is the warm glow of a heart at peace with itself.” (p. 53)

Majesty of Calmness” can be purchased on Amazon for $4.95. Do yourself a huge favor. Read it once, and then read it again.