can you keep your head?
Until a probably much-too-old age, I remember thinking that everyone who gave you a greeting card actually put a lot of thought into the message inside of the card that they sent to you. This bewildered me a bit, since so many of the messages were so lame.
As an aside, driving home from work the other day, there was a Hallmark advertisement on the local Filipino radio station. It must have been a ten minute song, because i thought, several times, that jingles seem much more appropriate for radio than television, and I wondered why I hadn’t heard any jingles on the radio in quite a while. The point of the overlong song was that no one throws away a Hallmark, because no one throws away a memory. I’m still kind of wishing that I could throw away that memory.
Anyway, for my 8th grade graduation, a few of the cards that i received contained the poem If by Rudyard Kipling. My first thought, before reading the poem, was that I knew that I was supposed to have read, and enjoyed, a number of his books, which I hadn’t managed to get around to.
If you don’t know anything about Kipling, his Wikipedia entry is a decent read. It amazes me how much some people can get done in a lifetime.
Another aside. I remember having a fascination/repulsion with the Just So Stories. It is one of the first story books that I remember. I thought that it was supposed to be a science-type book, and therefore all ‘true’, but it seemed not very believable. Lol, future genius there.
Assuming that I’d be disappointed, I read “If” anyway; I’ve never forgotten it. The poem contains the best advice (too rarely followed) that I’ve ever received. Back before google, I did keep the card with me for years so that I’d be able to read it again.
31 years after graduating 8th grade, I still read it to try to remember how i’m supposed to be.
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 imposters 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 wornout 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 breath 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!