Okay, I’m being outrageous by my modifying the sayings of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece in any way. Those sayings, or suggestions if you prefer, are usually only two words long and thus to my mind beg for interpretation. Line number 99 was particularly challenging for interpretation, having something to do with glory and one’s personal relationship with an emotional response to that kind of public acclaim. Perhaps Alexander the Great, who spoke that same language and conquered most of the world known to him only a few hundred years after those things were written down at Delphi, would not have had a problem understanding what struggling with glory would be like. I don’t have that problem!
I’ve done things but never anything that would bring glory to me. In actual fact, the closest I’ve come to having to cope with glory recently was getting a bouquet of flowers last week, where I finally get an award. I have very little desire for acclaim or even attention and generally avoid even speaking up when there are more than a few people present. I avoid seeking or accepting positions of power or responsibility and generally reject them when about to be forced upon me. Thus it seems strange to me that I am writing this book Love Your Life which includes these rewrites of the Sayings of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece. But that is what I am doing, so when I come to my own line #99 it gives me more of a mental pause than most of the others.
Do your work with skill and diligence. What can that mean to me? What does it mean to do the mental preparations which I recommend in preparation for the future activity? I have known people whom I would call skillful and diligent but I usually associate those qualities with old tradesmen. One of my old friends was a carpenter and I marveled at his scrap pile of the pieces of wood he threw away after cutting what he was making for the job. Even his discarded scrap pieces were beautifully formed. That demonstrated skill with a saw. I saw this again a couple of months ago when a lineman was working on top of the utility pole above my house. These two people were like master piano players at their chosen craft. When thinking of this trait in a social realm where you can see skill and diligence in action, on TV watch some of the old politicians or newsmen recover from difficult situations. These things require years of careful and dedicated thought and honing of skills.
I ramble on but I do think that cultivating skill and diligence in your chosen activities is a worthwhile thing to do. Sloppy uncaring actions must lead to an uncomfortable relationship with other people and with one’s entire reality.