On Cultivating a Little Life

On Cultivating a Little Life“Now the range of our possible sufferings is determined by the largeness and nobility of our aims.  It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows by the cultivation of an insignificant life.  Indeed, if it be a man’s ambition to avoid the troubles of life, the receipt is perfectly simple–let him shed his ambitions in every direction, let him assiduously cultivate a little life, with the fewest correspondences and relations.

By this means a whole continent of afflictions will be escaped and will remain unknown.  Cultivate negations, and large tracts of the universe will cease to exist.  For instance, cultivate deafness and you are saved from the horrors of discord.  Cultivate blindness, and you are saved from the assault of the ugly.  Stupefy a sense, and you shut out a world.

And therefore, it is literally true that if you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble, you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass.  And, indeed, that is why so many people, and even so many professedly Christian people, get through life so easily, and with a minimum acquaintance with tribulation.  It is because they have reduced their souls to a minimum, that their course through the years is not so much the transit of a man, as the passage of an amoeba.  They have no finely organized nervous system, or they have deadened and arrested the growth of one nerve after another.  They have cut the sensitive wires which bind the individual to the race, and they are cozily self-contained, and the shuddering sorrow of the world never disturbs their seclusion.

Tiny souls can dodge through life; bigger souls are blocked on every side.”

John Henry Jowett (1863-1923)

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