Friday, 19 October 2012

Weekend Quote #15

Poverty in youth, when it succeeds, has this magnificent property about it, that it turns the whole will towards effort, and the whole soul towards aspiration. Poverty instantly lays material life bare and renders it hideous; hence inexpressible bounds towards the ideal life. The wealthy young man has a hundred coarse and brilliant distractions, horse races, hunting, dogs, tobacco, gaming, good repasts, and all the rest of it; occupations for the baser side of the soul, at the expense of the loftier and more delicate sides. The poor young man wins his bread with difficulty; he eats; when he has eaten, he has nothing more but meditation. He goes to the spectacles which God furnishes gratis; he gazes at the sky, space, the stars, flowers, children, the humanity among which he is suffering, the creation amid which he beams. He gazes so much on humanity that he perceives its soul, he gazes upon creation to such an extent that he beholds God. He dreams, he feels himself great; he dreams on, and feels himself tender. From the egotism of the man who suffers he passes to the compassion of the man who meditates. An admirable sentiment breaks forth in him, forgetfulness of self and pity for all. As he thinks of the innumerable enjoyments which nature offers, gives, and lavishes to souls which stand open, and refuses to souls that are closed, he comes to pity, he the millionnaire of the mind, the millionnaire of money. All hatred departs from his heart, in proportion as light penetrates his spirit. And is he unhappy? No. The misery of a young man is never miserable.

I take this long quote from Hugo's Les Miserables. It's a very wonderful description of what chance opens for those who have less material things in life. Misery doesn't have to be miserable. There are always things that we can be grateful of despite our problems. We are not, probably, given the fact that we have access to the internet, very poor as not having enough to eat. But there are times when we complain about life, about what we don't have and what we should have.

The quote above reminds us that even in extreme poverty, there are things that God still provides for us for free, for nothing. We have the air we breathe, and the spectacles of creation so dazzling and artistic, more beautiful than any painting human being ever created. There will always be people who seem to have more than us, but there has never been any guarantee that they enjoy what they have more than we do.

Another thing that strikes my attention is the phrase “millionaire of the mind.” One cannot always feed his body without money, but can always feed his mind through meditation. Being rich materially is sometimes a matter of luck, while being rich in the mind is a matter of choice. When we look through our lives from many point of view, we get the whole picture of things, we stop pitying ourselves, we grumble less and we praises God more.

This quote touches my heart, and here I'd like to share it with all of you. Is there anything you want to share for the weekend?


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  1. This is a beautiful quote! Thanks for sharing.

  2. You are welcome. It's indeed beautiful. Hugo is such a deep thinker.