Stand Still Like The Hummingbird, a collection of stories and essays by Henry Miller, remains one of the most cherished books in my library. I don't know how long I have had my copy, which was published more than fifty years ago, but I have dipped into its profound wisdom with regularity for most of my adult life. Some of that wisdom was quoted in Aways Merry and Bright, which I posted in 2010. Here are some other pearls that I believe are worthy of reflection:
On happiness —
Man craves happiness here on earth, not fulfillment, not emancipation. Are they utterly deluded, then, in seeking happiness? No, happiness is desirable, but it is a by-product, the result of a way of life, not a goal which is forever beyond one's grasp. Happiness is achieved en route . . . To make happiness a goal is to kill it in advance.
On real power —
If there is one power which man indubitably possesses—have we not had proof of it again and again?—it is the power to alter one's way of life. It is perhaps man's only power.
On struggle and surrender —
Struggle has its importance, but we tend to overrate it. Harmony, serenity, [and] bliss do not come from struggle but from surrender.
On questing —
The long voyage is not an escape but a quest. The man is seeking for a way to be of service to the world. Toward the end he realizes what his mission in life is—"it is to be a bridge of goodwill." Un homme de bonne volonté!
On Taoism —
One takes up the path in order to become the path.
On the teachings of Buddha, Lao-tzu, and Jesus —
What they tried to convey to us, these luminaries, was that there is no need for all these laws of ours, these codes and conventions, these books of learning, these armies and navies, these rockets and spaceships, these thousand and one impedimenta which weigh us down, keep us apart, and bring us sickness and death. We need only to behave as brothers and sisters, follow our hearts not our minds, play not work, create and not add invention upon invention. Though we realize it not, they demolished the props which sustain our world of make-believe . . .
They changed worlds, yes. They traveled far. But standing still. Let us not forget that the road inward toward the source stretches as far and as deep as the road outward.
On standing still like the hummingbird, instead of "getting somewhere" —
When you find you can go neither backward nor forward . . . when you are convinced that all the exits are blocked, either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird. The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose, only you were too busy searching elsewhere to realize it. The worst is not death, but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous.
Have a nice weekend, everyone,
and make sure to find some honey wherever you are.