When I’m in the midst of difficulties, it’s easy to come up with self-reinforcing justifications for my ongoing sadness, or fear, or despair – all of which are often a way of simply keeping the situation going.
It’s in times like these that I find these sage words from Merlin, in T.H.White’s The Once and Future King, such a powerful reminder that there are alternative, and much more life-giving, paths available to each of us:
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin… “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you.