| text and photo © Jonathan Zap
Card URL: http://www.zaporacle.com/card/to-serve-to-strive-and-not-to-yield/
Someone wrote the last stanza of Tennyson's classic poem "Ulysses" in a Burning Man temple:
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Earlier in the poem is a related couplet:
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
These lines. spoken from the perspective of an aging Ulysses, are a reminder to us all to burn brightly while we still live. It is not an invitation to burn the candle at both ends in the way of a frenzied hedonist, but to be as radiant as we can. Shine the best light you have to offer into the world. Rise above fatigue and discouragement and shine!
To Serve to Strive and Not to Yield is the motto of Outward Bound. In the Eighties I took a twenty-three day Outward Bound course in the Cascade Mountains of northern Washington. Many years later, one of the Outward Bound instructors came up to me in a dream and asked: "How is your outward bound going?" It was a potent reminder to me that all of human incarnation is a journey. We are all like outward bound boats sojourning from birth to death. Throughout the journey we need discipline, rigor, perseverance and cooperative interdependence with our fellow sojourners. We do not have to be in naively heroic mode. There are rare times when surrender is the most sensible option. But we should spend most of our lives burnished and shining in use.
Consider this a propitious time to embody this worthy Outward Bound motto: To Serve to Strive and Not to Yield.