Saturday, September 07, 2013


“Mr Borthrop Trumbull [an auctioneer] had a kindly liquid in his veins; he was an admirer by nature, and would have liked to have the universe under his [auction] hammer, feeling that it would go at a higher figure for his recommendation.”
   -- George Eliot, Middlemarch

Years ago I knew a man who was bedridden with a gruesome disease, but somehow, to my amazement, he was able to be what Eliot’s auctioneer was, an admirer by nature. He told me he had only so many years left to live, only so many minutes in which to admire the world around him or heap scorn upon it, and he chose to admire. He said it’s exhausting to constantly find fault with what’s happening, and he would rather relax in his admiration for the gifts this world gave him than wear himself out with complaining. Looking back, I guess he was lucky to have, like Borthrop Trumbull, “a kindly liquid in [his] veins”, an approving and thankful nature that found something to praise in just about everything. Yes, he knew there was evil in the world, and there was failure and insufficiency and malfunction, and there were disappointments and duds aplenty, but he also knew, as he often told me, that there are so many more successes and wonders and heroes. He said that finding fault in everything is like seeing flaws in sunrises, or getting a gift of a great amount of money and making a fuss because it’s not $2.00 more. He said he would rather work his hardest to find some satisfaction in his situation than rage against it. Life, he said as he struggled to sit up in his bed, is far too short to spend it in grumbles and grievances. There’s sunshine to be seen in even the darkest days, and, from the bed he was confined to, he was out to find it.  

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