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Albert Schweitzer

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Most men are scantily nourished on a modicum of happiness and a number of empty thoughts which life lays on their plates. They are kept in the road of life through stern necessity by elemental duties which they cannot avoid.
Again and again their will-to-live becomes, as it were, intoxicated: spring sunshine, opening flowers moving clouds, waving fields of grain all affect it. The manifold will-to-live, which is known to us in the splendid phenomena in which it clothes itself, grasps at their personal wills. They would fain join their shouts to the mighty symphony which is proceeding all around them. The world seem beauteous...but the intoxication passes. Dreadful discords only allow them to hear a confused noise, as before, where they had thought to catch the strains of glorious music. The beauty of nature is obscured by the suffering which they discover in every direction. And now they see again that they are driven about like shipwrecked persons on the waste of ocean, only that the boat is at one moment lifted high on the crest of the waves and a moment later sinks deep into the trough; and that now sunshine and now darkening clouds lie on the surface of the water.
And now they would fain persuade themselves that land lies on the horizon toward which they are driven. Their will-to-live befools their intellect so that it makes efforts to see the world as it would like to see it. It forces this intellect to show them a map which lends support to their hope of land. Once again they essay to reach the shore, until finally their arms sink exhausted for the last time and their eyes rove desperately from wave to wave. ...
Thus it is with the will-to-live when it is unreflective.
But is there no way out of this dilemma? Must we either drift aimlessly through lack of reflection or sink in pessimism as the result of reflection? No. We must indeed attempt the limitless ocean, but we may set our sails and steer a determined course.

 
Albert Schweitzer

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Life is what we make it, and the world is what we make it. The eyes of the cheerful and of the melancholy man are fixed upon the same creation; but very different are the aspects which it bears to them. To the one, it is all beauty and gladness; the waves of ocean roll in light, and the mountains are covered with day. Life, to him, flashes, rejoicing, upon every flower and every tree that trembles in the breeze. There is more to him, everywhere, than the eye sees; a presence of profound joy, on hill and valley, and bright, dancing water. The other idly or mournfully gazes at the same scene, and everything wears a dull, dim, and sickly aspect. The murmuring of the brooks is a discord to him, the great roar of the sea has an angry and threatening emphasis, the solemn music of the pines sings the requiem of his departed happiness, the cheerful light shines garishly upon his eyes and offends him. The great train of the seasons passes before him like a funeral procession; and he sighs, and turns impatiently away. The eye makes that which it looks upon; the ear makes its own melodies and discords: the world without reflects the world within.

 
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Reverence for life, veneratio vit?, is the most direct and at the same time the profoundest achievement of my will-to-live.
In reverence for life my knowledge passes into experience. The simple world- and life-affirmation which is within me just because I am will-to-live has, therefore, no need to enter into controversy with itself, if my will-to-live learns to think and yet does not understand the meaning of the world. In spite of the negative results of knowledge, I have to hold fast to world- and life-affirmation and deepen it. My life carries its own meaning in itself. This meaning lies in my living out the highest idea which shows itself in my will-to-live, the idea of reverence for life. With that for a starting-point I give value to my own life and to all the will-to-live which surrounds me, I persevere in activity, and I produce values.

 
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Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me. It is an uncomfortable doctrine which the true ethics whisper into my ear. You are happy, they say; therefore you are called upon to give much.

 
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Live. Breathe. It is not fear that we need to live by, but joy, hope. Inside you, in your ocean, maybe it seems barren; maybe it feels as if there is no hope, no kindness, no reason for happiness. But deep within you, undeniably, something rumbles, cries out, wants to be born. Allow the joy to come forward. Allow the hope to exist.

 
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