Accidents of BirthPublished 2020-06-24 natively
We cannot all be beautiful. We cannot all be strong. Many are born plain. Some are born frail. For those who by such accidents hold no potential for natural excellence, how do they find virtue? How do they they come to admiration?
Their excellence must go beyond the flesh. Natural limitations, misfortune, ought to instill into them humility, the mental discipline to reserve a mind untroubled by accidents, instead of merely a coveting for what they do not have. If we succumb to indifference toward those virtues we do not hold then we are not only injured but desolate, or if we fall into obsession over them only to compensate an uneven life; in either case we have failed to distinguish ourselves as creatures in contention with fate, and develop a potential. To do otherwise, we require spiritual strength, that is an expression for complex forces of resolve and ingenuity, as to while deprived of beauty labor for it is akin to walking in darkness to pursue light. Those who cannot find this drive, this strength, will not survive this wretched world which is overwrought with ruin, but succumb to its taint as another empty casualty.
Many worthy men retain their admiration for heights they cannot reach, yet have no answer when asked for their own virtue. These are subject to crises of mind, as they have attended only one worth which they cannot find in themselves. For want of vision, many souls are lost. To love what is good, to strive in accordance with nature even when one is not on its favored side, is a virtue in itself, an intact conscience and spirit. For the remarkable to thrive, they must have the allegiance and interest of many more who would protect them from malady and from the perverse, who would in a word venerate them them, and the silence of the admirer is a token of the deteriorating ages. When men cease to proclaim what is good and what is right, for saying so will not flatter himself or his friends, the world darkens. Whatever loves cannot be spoken will fade in time.
It is difficult to realize the legitimacy of this connection, the sense of it, in our modern age which insists that each quality is held personally, and all persons are mere sums of weights, inert qualities. Any profession of esteem is answered by questioning status, the merits of one who so professes; to say 'I love' has lost its aphoristic quality. Better far that such a statement be lauded, far over the cowards who content themselves to opinions and analyses. When we may speak and act in sincerity, the joint cause of the gifted and the admiring becomes more obvious, as in such company the ideal is returned, that perfection beyond marginally lesser or better features, to consideration and pursuit, to which the meagre and great may each contribute as much as the bricklayer and drafter to the towering spire. To do this requires spiritual strength, especially amongst the scorn of the spiritless, the ironists and the satirists. Otherwise we may wander for years in murk without giving off enough light to attract the attention of another.
In a healthy society, a better moral condition, even the most humble man may preserve his resolve in mind and spirit, commitment to word and action, and thus come to honor and be esteemed amongst those more favored by fortune. Honor gives a path for the simplest man to be elevated, while his betters fall into perplexity and are scorned. In our present condition this is much the same, except that honor will win no public favor, no fitting stature; it remains a virtue in silence. Safeguard what virtues we have but more jealously our sensibility towards them, without which we lose all sense for ourselves and our lives, and only with that will can higher virtues be cultivated and preserved in ourselves and our comrades.
Do not take this merely as an admonition out of antiquity, for so many of those have no salience in our long-fallen world, and serve only hollow mummery of moralists. There are virtues beyond the flesh, beyond the limits of the flesh, which are not limited to preserving our starved hearts; yet if anything beyond the flesh is to be attained the heart must endure. We cannot become great in mind or vision, not weave a solid grasp of this world or a vessel of something better, as a matter of resort, having already abdicated worth. Only in the absolute conviction in our own worth, those often-quiet wistful voices, do we have the stature to shrug before pale skin and shadowed eyes, and insist on something greater. For mind and spirit are rarer even than strength or beauty, already so diminished, but also greater than any one form can achieve.
Mind, spirit, these are more than bone, more than stone, fluid and fire, shifting and changing with vitality and whim, and can reach far wider. Heroes earn their admiration, but it is poets who make their virtues eternal and shape the hopes and potential of all the others; without the timid thoughts committed at pains to ink even the most burning passion would be a flickering flame before time's insufferable pace. In our age so deprived, we know only heroism, only great beauty and the quiet glade and the calm of ages through memory and the minds of men. Without them, who often labor without model, without any lingering spark of virtue in the inchoate masses to guide them, to still bring forth the necessary art for life.
Our pains, our agonies, many born of private inadequacies and uncertainties, are testaments that we continue to live, are not passive scorned things, and our potential for greatness. Too many scorn them, stifle and neglect them, for fear of being imperfect, of being flawed, being plain or weak, though they have already accepted this fate. They hate most to be told what they know every day as a constant underbeat. At best, they have only been told lies that these flaws which they feel so keenly under their own skin, which are more real than anything else they encounter, are somehow phantasmal artifacts of someone-else's influence; at worst they have believed this for a while. No-one has even attempted to convey to them that these torments of inadequacy are both justified and necessary, to affirm their sentiments. Without confrontation, we only languish under our imperfections, treat them as simple limits to our achievements; a conscious attendance of such shortcomings can only result in striving, in focusing on what we can do with the rest.
A beautiful person only needs to be polished, and stand for admiration. A strong person needs only cultivate that strength and apply it, accomplish feats for utility and respect. One who has no real potential for either must be not only dedicated but ingenious, working with his faculties in unobvious ways, bent on understanding the elusive and discovering the obscure, must strive and attempt again and again, until finding a vessel worthy and filling it adequately. Only then, through their industry and inspiration is the awkward child acknowledged. Even then, all too often, the shortsighted masses think only of the work, who basest structures would escape their every listless attempt, and do not pass that respect back towards it creator, and think on what sort of creature could devise such a thing. That much curiosity, that much compassion is rare in all respects. The life of a humble man will never be as easy as those more favored, however much excellence he drives toward his work, indeed it may all be futile, never given full measure.
Yet it is virtue. Subtle to the degree of the sublime, precious to the point of the secret; still it is virtue. Without it, it is merely another wasted, endured life, one of the countless scattershot attempts at random chance that nature creates and selects between to cultivate slight improvements over eons. To those who take only their providence, and view life as an inert affair, most lives are simply wasted in inferiority. Only the humble can escape the shadow of the stronger limb, the more colorful eye, and discover a domain in which to be sufficient, and through a kind of magic bring that manifold into the formerly one-dimensional axis of merit. However hale, those who rely upon their immediate gifts have only one set of eyes, one set of arms, one tongue and one life to use and make a presence of. He who must fashion his own mask, must see and decide for himself what to make of this life, can alone appreciate its weight, and attain to the universal. We who are not content, and restlessly wander in all directions, find the most beautiful of moments, chance figments, and fix them in amber, hewn into inimitable shapes and set in bindings of wood and silver, and we owe our most precious qualities not to nature alone or to fortune's caprice. We have made ourselves, our own virtues, and they are ours whether alone or shared.
Strength and beauty not worn, but sustained by will.