“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” – Thoreau
Class never goes out of style.
Perhaps you desire to have more balance in your life, or more peace of mind. Hold this aspiration near to you. Whenever you have the opportunity to take an action, speak words, or pursue a thought, ask yourself, “Will this bring me closer to having more balance/peace in my life?” This is what respice finem means: Consciously choose your desired goals, and apply that understanding to how you place your energy and attention in this present moment.
“Respice finem, that is to say, in all your actions, look often upon what you would have, as the thing that directs all your thoughts in the way to attain it.” – Thomas Hobbes
Aspire to good things. Defy labels. Reach for new heights. Keep the goals you wish to achieve ever in your mind, while continually returning to the present moment, because it is in this present moment alone that we have access to both the pleasure of living and the power to act. Make small progress every day toward your aspirations, and even the shadow you cast will be amazing.
“You’re not like the others. I’ve seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that. The others would walk off and leave me talking… No one has time any more for anyone else.” — Clarisse M. (Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury)
It is difficult to rival the Italians when it comes to architecture as an art form. Consider the awe-inspiring Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, in Milan, Italy. It is a magnificent structure built with dramatically arching panes of glass, intricate cast iron latticework, and an interior filled with paintings, mosaics, and countless other elements of architectural and artistic style.
It was designed by Giuseppe Mengoni in 1861, and it was built between the years 1865 and 1877, also by him. The building was named after (and financed by) Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of a newly unified Italy.
Other interesting facts:
1) It was intended to be exactly what it is, a shopping mall. And, over 100 years later, it still is.
2) Whenever you go to a modern shopping mall anywhere in the world and it is called “The Galleria,” it is a reference to this specific structure. (Whether the builders realize it or not.)
3) In an ironic turn of fate, Mengoni died soon after the Galleria’s completion. He fell off the roof of his own creation. (It is 154 feet tall.)
On a lighter note, a few years back I ate a Big Mac there. Madness, I know. A Big Mac in Italy, the land of incredible food. But there was a method to my madness. First, purely for the sake of the sheer juxtaposition of experience, it was novel and fun. Second, I have a healthy appetite, so there was no chance that one burger was going to slow me down. Third, and perhaps most significantly of all, you can’t have a Big Mac there anymore. That’s right, in 2012 the Galleria refused to renew McDonalds’ lease, and after a protracted round of legal jousting it was decided that the fast food giant would never return to the mall. That spot is now occupied by a Prada store. There was, of course, no way for me to foresee this at the time, but it definitely makes me all the more glad that I did it.
I suppose the point is, enjoy the moment. Have fun. A Big Mac is only as mundane as you allow it to be. Engage with the unique texture of wherever you find yourself. To be alive is amazing… savor it.
The Laughing Buddha. What a wonderful symbol. Arising out of 8th Century China, Budai is the very image of contentment. He carries his material possessions in a simple cloth sack, and he is always depicted smiling or laughing. He is a jovial, yet profound reminder that spirituality is not meant to be a dour, somber affair. Quite to the contrary, any genuine exploration into our spiritual nature — and thereby into the nature of the universal Creative Spirit — will be a journey toward increased compassion, peace, vitality and happiness in our lives.
To strive to be your best self — in a world that seems full of reasons not to — this is truly a worthy endeavor.