We all have lines and works of literature that have touched us (and stayed with us for years, if not for the rest of our lives). Sometimes, those life lessons become even more poignant as time passes. All those scars on our skin (and underneath the skin) could make us angry or bitter, or we can see them all as part of life.

We learn. We grow. And, we continue to move forward, every day.

Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly fairy. “One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” -Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen is one of those writers who has a multitude of life lessons to share, but they’re hidden throughout his works. His stories (fairy tales) are so often seen as the stuff for children, or young people; so, it may have been years since you’ve read (or even thought about) his fanciful works of the imagination. This bit is just one of the little life lessons that we all should remember (and learn to live by). “Just living is not enough.” It’s just not!

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” – Henry David Thoreau

I often think about Thoreau on his Walden Pond, contemplating life. That “quiet desperation” is akin to a deep loss of hope, a feeling that nothing will (or can matter) in this world and that this despair and devastation will continue, without end. With desperation comes a tipping point, a moment when desperation could make us to desperate things. What is it within us that gives us the strength to withstand the temptation to just let go (and act out in ways that we would normally have considered unthinkable…

Of course, if each of us is leading a life of “quiet desperation,” that should also affect how we interact with others who are traveling this road with us. I don’t know what you’re going through at the moment, but it could be that your feeling desperation is reaching a boil-over point. What can we all do for one another? A considerate word, a smile, or a simple act of kindness–all to help each other in our shared desperation of moments.

Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulder; but cheerful folks manage to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night.” – Marion Howard

I seem to be forever cursed with those blankets that are too short, but I really love this analogy! In life, we can struggle against those forces that chill us to the bone. There’s often very little we can do. But, if we can learn to bend a little–perhaps even curl-up some–we will get by. It may not be the way we imagined it to be (life rarely fulfills our most cherished expectations. In the bed of life, when nothing quite fits like we wish it would, we can make it work (and eve have a few moments of enjoyment along the way)…


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