Monday, October 08, 2007

Do your best

The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called Nike of Samothrace,[1] is a marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory)
A partial inscription on the base of the statue includes the word "Rhodhios" (Rhodes), indicating that the statue was commissioned to celebrate a naval victory by Rhodes, at that time the most powerful
maritime state in the Aegean. This would date the statue to 288 BC at the earliest.
The Victory is one of the Louvre's greatest treasures, and it is today displayed in the most dramatic fashion, at the head of the sweeping Daru staircase. The [unintended] loss of the head and arms, while regrettable in a sense, is held by many to enhance the statue's depiction of the supernatural.

Do your best.

You will, of course, make good moral choices along the way. This is part of doing your best. Pray for guidance.

Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God, and to love your fellow man. Doing your best is the finest expression of love for God, and of love for fellow man. Any moment you are engaged in optimal activity is a moment you are contributing as much as you possibly can to both God and man. You are being all you can be. This is the path of love, fulfillment, and happiness.

We are designed to do our best. We are happiest when we are faithful to our design and our Designer. Doing our best is faith in action. It is living fully. It is glorifying God.

We are designed to thrive. The injection of human intelligence onto Earth was an event of cosmic importance. The existence of our intelligence argues for the conclusion that we are designed to thrive. Therefore, do your best is not an exhortation to unhappy or painful martyrdom. It's an invitation to thrive upon the Earth, as we are designed to do.

Consistent with thriving, and with "not martyrdom", we honor the human design which requires both stress (activity) and rest. Rest - both physical and mental - is critical to our well-being. It is part of making good choices. The same applies to appropriate physical and mental stress (activity). We are not created to speed the wearing away of our minds and bodies. Balance. Do your best to actively stress your mind and body. Do your best to rest your mind and body. This pleases God.

A side point, also related to the "not martyrdom" meme: in a market economy, creating wealth is a tremendous contribution to one's fellow man. Wealth begets wealth for others. It contributes to the welfare of others. Creating wealth is loving action. Go forth. Create wealth. Love. Laugh. Thrive. This pleases God.

Rather than being an exhortation to martyrdom, do your best is an invitation to life. It is an invitation to join the game, and to play amongst the friends you will naturally acquire along the way.

Do your best.

Above: The Winged Victory of Samothrace, displayed atop the Daru staircase at the Louvre.

Postscript: why?

Gaghdad Bob once said it's best if we do not question whether or not we ought do our best, i.e. we ought not agonize over: If we're all going to die anyway, why even try? He believes our best course is to simply open ourselves to God's light, just as a flower turns and opens itself to sunlight.

I have agonized: If we're all going to die anyway, why try? Why suffer pain and discomfort in any effort to accomplish anything?

The answer is that our existence is not merely about our time on Earth, and our existence is not merely about what humans can understand and conceive. If our existence were strictly about an Earthly dimension, inside of which we were barrelling toward the certain oblivion of death, there would be no purpose in giving effort towards any goal. Fortunately, our existence is about more than an Earthly dimension.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace is the finest artistic example of the melding of human effort with eternal, supernatural spark. When Liza Minelli was asked to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", she would reply: "It's been done." In depicting the melding of human effort with eternal spark: Winged Victory has been done. h/t

Some things - such as Why even try? - cannot be understood via strictly Earthbound logic. The answers can only be sensed, and only in light of the eternal, supernatural, vertical element of existence.

When doing our best, why are we more comfortable, in the presence of inherent discomforts ... than we oppositely would have been in the face of the ephemeral (and often false) comforts we might have perceived while doing less than our best? When doing our best, our comfort in the face of discomfort occurs partly because of a supernatural spark of love, and partly because we are designed to do our best.

A not completely fathomable eternal spark creates the condition of us being happier when doing our best - even in the face of attendant discomforts. We might define the not completely fathomable as love. It's a clue that our entire existence is not limited to our Earthly existence. It sparks the satisfaction we experience when we are doing our best. It sparks the moments of joy, and the bone deep senses of fulfillment.

Separately, yet related, we find comfort and pleasure in doing what we are designed to do. Doing our best is like coming home. It is fulfilling our intended purpose. Doing our best is a familiar place. Our souls know that place.

Doing less than our best is like being cast into a hostile wilderness, with only a snow-cone for comfort. That snow-cone is melting fast.

Do your best. Come home to life.

Related: Victory; Bliss; Unfinished

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