Kierkegaard on How to Save Yourself

“I’m, within the deepest sense, an sad particular person who since my earliest days have been nailed quick to some struggling near madness.”

All of our inventive work is our coping mechanism for all times. Artwork is simply what we name our devices of self-salvation. It might contact different lives, salve and save them even, however it’s at all times at backside a non-public lifeline.

Søren Kierkegaard (Might 5, 1813–November 11, 1855) had barely set foot into his twenties when he started arriving at this recognition in his personal life and work. Since childhood, he had seen his melancholy as an “terrible secret” he needed to conceal “beneath the cloak of an outward existence of exuberance and gaiety.” By the top of his adolescence, the cloak had grown all of the thicker as his melancholy grew all of the deeper.

Søren Kierkegaard

Writing in his early twenties in what turned The Diary of Søren Kierkegaard (public library), he observes with cool take away the overtone of his life:

I’m, within the deepest sense, an sad particular person who since my earliest days have been nailed quick to some struggling near madness.

However inside a yr, he was already discovering his calling in his incubus:

I’ve succeeded in turning a somersault into the realm of pure spirit the place I now stay. However that, in flip, made me completely heterogenous with extraordinary humanity.

Inventive work was the spring of his somersault — his writing turned the lifeline of his self-salvation. At solely twenty-three, he noticed clearly his goal — to be of service by making extraordinary life extra livable for others, in flip making his personal life price dwelling:

I’ve conceived of myself as intent upon standing up for the Peculiar — in a bungled and demoralized age — and making it lovable and accessible to all these of my fellow-creatures who’re able to realizing it, however who’re led astray by the occasions and who chase after the Un-Widespread, the Additional-Peculiar. I’ve understood my process to be like that of an individual who himself has grow to be sad and subsequently — if he loves human beings — significantly needs to assist others who’re able to realizing happiness.

Artwork by Cindy Derby from A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Younger Reader. (Obtainable as a print, benefitting the New York public library system.)

In a passage of extraordinary self-awareness, cognizant that acts of egotism and self-flattery can usually masquerade as altruism, he provides:

However… in all humility to do one thing good to make up for my shortcomings, I’ve been particularly vigilant that my efforts shouldn’t be tainted with self-seeking vainness and, above all, that I served Thought and Fact in such a method as to not derive any secular and temporal benefits therefrom. Subsequently I do know, in all good conscience, that I’ve labored with true resignation.

A yr later, he acknowledges that in serving to others, he’s additionally serving to himself — not as an finish however as a salutary byproduct, the best way all acts of generosity convey their very own reward to the giver:

Like Scheherazade who saved her life by telling fairy tales, so I save my life or hold myself alive by writing.

Complement with the younger poet Anne Reeve Aldrich’s extraordinary letter to Emily Dickinson about the right way to bear your struggling and Marcus Aurelius on the Stoic technique for turning struggling into energy, then revisit Kierkegaard on the ability of the minority, the ability of music, why haters hate, our best supply of unhappiness (and what to do about it), and the one true treatment for our existential vacancy.

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