Friday, January 12, 2007

January 12, 2007 - Living with Our Troubles

I ran across this quotation the other day, and it’s still rattling around in my brain, so I thought I’d post it here:

“The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.”

– Bernard Baruch

I didn’t know a lot about Bernard Baruch, other than that he was an advisor to presidents and prime ministers on economic and foreign policy, so I looked him up. I discovered he was a Wall Street whiz kid who made a fortune by the time he was thirty, then went on to a career of unelected public service, advising Woodrow Wilson and FDR, working behind the scenes as an architect of the New Deal. He was something of an eccentric, who, despite his millions, liked to do his political consulting from certain park benches in Lafayette Park in Washington and Central Park in New York.

What does a man like that know about troubles?

Who can say? Struggles with private demons don’t often make it into the biographies. Yet, if the scriptures are right in saying, “human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7), then Baruch surely had his share.

His homespun advice makes good sense. Some of life’s troubles we can fend off. Others, we can’t. Yet, we all have the freedom to manage and mold ourselves, in response to those troubles. It’s what’s meant by that oft-quoted phrase, “living with cancer.”

It’s what I’m doing these days, and millions of other people, besides.

I like Baruch’s emphasis on not only living with our troubles, but growing with them. It’s all in the choices we make: whether we crawl into a corner and moan, or whether we move forward in spite of it all.

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