Paul Jourdy (1805-1856) - Homer Reciting His Verses, 1834 ® RMN-Grand Palais /Dist. Foto SCALA, Florence
Paul Jourdy (1805-1856) - Homer Reciting His Verses, 1834 ® RMN-Grand Palais /Dist. Foto SCALA, Florence
Solomeo, 30th December 2022
In these days approaching the end of the year, when we all, in the serenity of our hearts, look at our recent and distant past and take stock of it; in this serene time when we look at the horizons of a bright future, my thoughts turn to you, young people. I love you deeply, and I see you all through the eyes of a father and a man who always thinks with his soul turned towards the future. You are for me like the salt of the earth, the grown-ups and sentinels of tomorrow, worthy, like every other human being, of living in pursuit of happiness. Your eyes are bright and full of great energy: I always glimpse in you something that can be joy, hope, and sometimes even disappointment. The sparkle in your eyes is so vital that, even when I find myself in business circumstances, I instinctively leave the usual form for the unusual, and speak to you with the simplicity that unites brother to brother. I wasn't much different from you, at your age. Today I am a man who has followed his special dream, someone who has finally fulfilled the ancient desire, born out of my teary-eyed father offended at work, the dream of living humanistically towards himself and towards others.
This, I think often, makes my intention noble. Therefore, sometimes, when we are together on some public occasion, with my eyes fixed on yours, never leaving them the whole time, I like to tell you about my life, how I see my childhood poverty today as a gift and not as a condemnation, how in that poverty I lacked nothing, neither food nor, above all, happiness, and this happiness, which was true wealth, I found it every day in the beauty of nature: the dawns white as lilies, the skies blazing blue and red, the first sun slowly drying the silver dew, the murmuring music of the rain in the woods, the noble procession of the seasons.
I often tell you how wealth is not, as it may seem, a light weight to bear, and only if you know how to turn it into a gift is it acceptable to the righteous man. You might encounter grief in life, unfortunately, as a creeping enemy who awaits each one, lurking in the future. But at the same time pain, as so many ancient scholars teach us, is a gift, and as Oscar Wilde put it, who had it as a companion for over two years in the Reading prison, "it is the most sensitive of all created things."
I speak to you, moved by your youth, of the usefulness of a fair look at the world. Unless you are able to look far, you will not find many reasons for a real life. But sight is the viaticum of every sustainably happy life, and is among the most precious gifts we have received from humanity. Leon Battista Alberti, who made the winged eye his artist's coat of arms, knew it well. Eyes are made to look far, as far away as possible, staring at the horizon, like Alexander the Great as a child, when he spent long hours on the seashore with his eyes turned towards infinity, and with his heart cast beyond the trembling blue line separating the sky from the water, he imagined those lands that he would soon conquer to unite the greatest cultures of the then known world. Looking far away, my dear young people, you will be able to imagine and give life to beautiful dreams, and you will feel the sense of time, which is never in a hurry when it wants to achieve great goals, of that time which seems limited when compared to the year or the lustre, but it begins to fly high when compared to one or more centuries. And moving from dreams to ideals, look at the sky. Love art, love beauty, for in them is the truth that unites the soul with the real world. Refrain from anger, which clutters the ways of the soul and prevents heaven from blowing its enchantments upon it.
Until now, partly through our fault as parents who have passed on to you the idea of work almost as a punishment for not being proficient at school, sometimes you have had your hopes dimmed. Now is the time to embark on a new vision: it is not easy to own one's soul, but you are among those who can do it. Then, when you are moved by the flaming petals of a poppy or by the smell of a ripe fruit around which bees buzz, when the wind, blowing at its whim, seems to you like a Mercury heralding distant lands, and its passing is the sweetest music, then you will be in the blissful state of hope and of the sparkling world that awaits you. Read books: as the Emperor Hadrian thought, founding libraries is like building public granaries. It is not always necessary to study everything; if the book is a real book, the kind where those who have lived with a human spirit tell their truth in simple words, or the kind that contains the wisdom of ancient peoples, open it at random, every single morning of your beautiful youth and then throughout your beautiful life, and read no more than twelve lines of the books that you happen to come across. It is a delightful and profitable way to start the day, and do not forget that alongside the intelligence ensuing from education there is always the intelligence of the soul.
Never be too afraid of your mistakes, which are everyone's mistakes, because it is from failure that greatness is born again; do not be ashamed to weep, because, as the great racing pilot Ayrton Senna once said, tears are the fuel of the soul. Remember that one noble gesture redeems more than one mistake. Never feel that you are better than others, because in all of us there is always room for great ideas. Be considerate towards others, in your family affections, in your studies, in your work, in your love life, because if you remain too focused on yourself, the right path will remain uncertain. Happiness lies not so much in possessing the thing we love, but in loving what is worthy of love.
May Creation protect us!
This letter is available in the following languages: Arabic - رسالة إلى حرّاس الإنسانية القادمين French - Lettre aux futures sentinelles de l'Humanité German - Brief an die zukünftigen Hüter der Menschheit Hebrew - מכתב אל אנשי המשמר העתידיים של האנושות Hindi - मानवता के भावी प्रहरियों को पत्र Portuguese - Carta às futuras sentinelas da Humanidade Russian - Письмо будущим стражам Человечества Spanish - Carta a los futuros centinelas de la humanidad Swahili - Barua kwa walinzi wa siku zijazo wa Binadamu
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