Chawnghilh's Blog

Men WANTED for Hazardous Journey!

Posted in Qualitus : Habitus by chawnghilh on November 30, 2009








“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” Sir Ernest Shackelton


SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON was an Antarctic explorer. To recruit men for one of his expeditions, he ran the forthright want ad quoted above in a London newspaper.

Sir Ernest wasn’t joking. The ad proved grimly prophetic for the brave men who volunteered for the three Antarctic expeditions he led. On one, the ship itself was lost, along with most of the supplies. The men spent 21 months in a living nightmare, camped on drifting ice or struggling toward civilization in three tiny boats.

Yet the men who had signed up for the “hazardous journey” not only refused to give up—they somehow managed to remain cheerful. And they won. Every last one of them returned to civilization alive.

In his want ad, Shackleton had promised “honor and recognition”—and it was heaped upon them. But actually they had earned something much, much greater. Shackleton himself later sought to put it into words: “We pierced the veneer of outside things,” he wrote. “We suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory … we reached the naked soul of man.”

Nowadays, it seems, security is all-important. Too often, I feel, we are satisfied to play it safe, to aim only for the “sure thing.” And while most of us still dream of making some sort of “hazardous journey” in our lives, not very many really make them. As a result, our lives may be safer and saner—but we may in the end be making a world in which fewer and fewer ever catch a glimpse of the magnificent naked soul of man.

TRUE COURAGE smiles. 😆  It cannot express itself otherwise. Courage is the prime virtue, the necessary element of existence, the birth of every thing. Because it is in itself all positive, and cannot be divorced from love and creation, it is in itself happy—the only happiness—and a smile is the only form it can take on the human face.

The archaic smile of the ancient gods and heroes identified them. In less mythological times, such as ours, the same smile returns on the humble features of millions of unknown men and women, when they find in themselves the basic form of courage: the courage of living.

We have all met many great heroes, men who consciously lived and died for freedom. But the infinite mass of obscure men, who daily accept reality with a smile, manifest a silent courage that makes life worthy of being lived.


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