Trying Too Hard

It was Sir Thomas More who coined the term ‘utopia’ and so named his most well-known work, a treatise addressing the social ills of his time with his idealist vision of a society freed from the twin dehumanizing injustices of crime and poverty. Many writers and social thinkers have since taken on similar challenges in their own work, exploring utopian possibilities through a deeper examination and understanding of dystopian realities.

So too, each of us, in our own way, is longing and searching for solutions that likewise promise to act as a healing balm for what ails us. I thought this quote from 20th century writer Aldous Huxley went a long way in that direction, something akin to a warm hug.

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.

Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.

Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.

Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.

I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.

Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me.

When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic.

No rhetoric, no tremolos,

no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell.

And of course, no theology, no metaphysics.

Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light.

So throw away your baggage and go forward.

There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,

trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.

That’s why you must walk so lightly.

Lightly my darling,

on tiptoes and no luggage,

not even a sponge bag,

completely unencumbered.”

― Aldous Huxley, Island