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“The idea of calm exists in a sitting cat” (Jane Pauley).
THE CALMNESS OF A CAT IS REMARKABLE. Crazy things may be going on in the immediate area, but a cat can look upon the entire scene with an aloofness and imperturbability that are amusing and marvelous. If we had some of that calmness, wouldn’t it be nice?
For most ordinary folks, calmness doesn’t come naturally. Our tendencies seem to run in the direction of anxiety and agitation, so the quality of calmness probably won’t be ours unless we cultivate it. There are principles we’ll have to learn and disciplines we’ll have to practice. Bit by difficult bit, we’ll have to gain the ability to be calm.
We live in a distinctly uncalm age, and when people nowadays see the need for more calmness, they often have no idea where to look for it. Stewart Udall had some good advice for us all when he wrote, “If you want inner peace, find it in solitude, not speed, and if you would find yourself, look to the land from which you came and to which you go.” It may be hard to find any solitude now, at least the kind that contributes to calmness, and we may have little time to appreciate where we’ve come from or to ponder where we’re going, but these things are vital. They’re vital not only to our calmness but to our strength and our ability to withstand the stress of constant change.
Calmness is one of the best gifts we can give to others. You may think you have little to offer to others, but if you’ll work on acquiring a calm spirit, the example of that will be a powerful influence on those who know you. In this troubled world, we need more people who’ve paid the price to acquire some calmness. Calmness can preach a powerful sermon even when few words are spoken.
Calmness, of course, shouldn’t be the highest value in a human life. There are times when honor calls us to lay aside quietness and enter into struggle and conflict. But if calmness is not the summum bonum of life, that doesn’t mean it’s not important at all. As Matthew Arnold said, “Calm’s not life’s crown, though calm is well.” Balanced and complemented by other values, calmness is one of life’s very good things. It’s a good thing to have — and a good thing to give away.
“He is a first-rate collector who can, upon all occasions, collect his wits” (George Dennison Prentice).