Tuesday, 1 June 2010


“The purpose of life is not to be happy - but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.” - Leo Rosten

I enjoy my work and find that on most days I am challenged, amused, satisfied and I have fun. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of matters that I have to be aware of, deal with, resolve, comment on, initiate, check on, conclude, sign off on, etc. Not so frequently I am irritated, annoyed, perplexed or puzzled. However, I manage to be relaxed and not stress out, but that is not so much because of the nature of the job but because of my own character traits. Some of my colleagues with less responsibility than me manage to be in a state of constant stress. I don’t know how they cope because such a high level of stress can have dire physiological effects, not only negative emotional and psychological ones.

For Poetry Wednesday today, I’d like to give you a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling, which I first read when I was a child, growing up in Greece in translation. I have since enjoyed many times in the original and its simple construction and rich texture always complements well its message.

Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!


  1. Nice poem!

    Although I agree that some folks are more prone to get stressed out about things than others, there are circumstances in which ( I believe ) anyone could become stressed.

    I just think that in many cases, stress is a gradual build up of various pressures upon a person over a period of time....in the work place, it can be because of work overload, the pace of the day, and basically not having the time and/or resources to complete everything efficiently. Add to it, constant criticism and lack of support from managers, and stress can so easily build up.

    I think there needs to be more understanding and support, and that bosses need to look out for signs of stress building up in individuals, before things get to the crisis stage.

    To end on a lighthearted note, I'm off to an appointment in the passport office today...now that is stressful!!! :D

  2. I really love this poem and like you I was introduced to it early in my life.
    Kipling has also written some wonderful fiction full of wisdom and inner reflection, which nevertheless is enjoyable easy to read.

  3. Kipling was The Man alright.
    The 1968 Lindsay Anderson movie IF
    is based around this poem.

    Your tree illustration is impressive.
    A tree can be a living poem, and there is a book full of these - Thomas Pakenham 'Meetings with great trees'. I love that book.