Isn’t It Interesting?

by Jason Stotts

For those of you who don’t know, M. and I are getting married this summer. Part of the process of preparing for our wedding involves having to write a new kind of ceremony and vows that are consistent with our philosophic principles and atheism. While working on these things I was reminded of an essay that I wrote for my old blog “A Rational Perspective” back in 2006. I’m presenting it here, mostly unedited, as it still is an accurate description of my thoughts on love and its importance in life.

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Some men are wealthy, some men are poor. My uncle is of the former, I myself am as of yet of the latter. Yet one day he gave me advice which I have never forgotten and which, were it to be loosed upon men, would change the very world: that is, if anyone understood it.

When he asked me what me future plans were, at a rather young age, I informed him that I wanted to be rich. He asked me if I knew what riches were. I pointed around to his luxurious house, yard, and boat. He merely smiled and asked me if I thought that such things could make a man truly happy. Being young, and much before I would come into my philosophical prowess, I did not understand his intent. He smiled at my confusion and looked inside through the window to his wife who was inside. He told me this, which I shall never forget: “It is not by being wealthy that a man becomes truly rich.”

I did not then understand him, although the words had a profound impact on me. Today these words, no longer lost to time or enigma, revived in me a sense of the greatness that people can achieve when they do no more than recognize the goods they have. Striving, struggling, overcoming: these are virtuous and the path to Happiness. Yet, without the recognition of what you have now, they lead not to happiness, but to oblivion. The failure to recognize the value of your current state, to revel in your existence in every moment which you are alive, is to give your life away, piece by irreplaceable piece, into some future account upon which you will never be able to draw.

Let us always strive for the best within us and the best open to us. Let us immolate our weakness; commit our indecision, evasion, and compromise to the flame. Let us dash our decadence upon the rocks that lay at the crumbling temple of sacrifice, rendering unto it that which it had always couchedly demanded. Let us struggle to overcome ourselves and in the process become divine. Yet, let us never fail to regard the majesty of every day that we have, every hour, and every minute. Let us hold our values dear and let us never fall into the deadly trap of nihilism. For every moment that we live is one more moment in which we can revel in our existence. There is no dishonor in reveling alone, but to those who have come to know true love, it is clear that to be with your lover is the epitome of human happiness.

True love is the union of two spiritual titans and just as the Greek Titans defied the gods and threw them from their thrones, true love throws the light of truth upon the false idols who claim that happiness is not possible in a human life. True love is the greatest thing possible, the noblest state, the finest goal. It is no easy endeavor: it requires nobility of character for each of the lovers, it requires firm commitment and principled resolve, it requires the profound conviction that your life is worth living and that both you and your lover deserve the greatest thing in life.

To those who have ever known true love, I commend you. Yours was no easy path, revel in your achievement.

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