Prometheus – on the Art of Empowering Yourself

Prometheus brings fire to mankind.

Prometheus brings fire to mankind.

From time to time, even the true downshifter, who is much less interested in power, money, glamour that the average chap, will feel a stitch of envy.

Especially if you are a self-made man or woman, who started without rich daddy, without great family connections, helping little ties etc.

A downshifter will typically not envy the powerful or rich career makers who made it to the top on their own account and paid their price to climb up the ladder, because he theoretically could have done the same but decided not to.

But he might envy the 1% (or 5%, whatever), who did just nothing, who did not work hard or invest clever. Those who simply and by stupid luck were born rich and powerful, in the right family, at the right time, in the right place. Those that (although they – as the only ones – will never see that) got their status, their wealth and their (apparently!) care-free life not by effort, but by pure luck.

As most human emotions envy is nothing wrong at all, but holds a function:

It’s a signal from your subconsciousness, that something is wrong here, that you seeing something unjust.
Of course the signal can be wrong, but often it is also right, because – please don’t tell your kids – life is indeed unjust.
There was never full justice in the world, there is not today (not even in your country, company, family) and there probably never will be full justice in the future. I don’t like it, but that is the way it is.

On the other hand, too much envy is certainly not helpful, so today I have something for your comfort:

 

One of my favorite “heroes” from Greek mythology and a “role model for the modern middle-class employee” (woodpecker interpretation 🙂 ):

Prometheus!

As you might know, Prometheus was the guy who stole the fire from the gods and brought it to humankind.

In the Woodpecker modern interpretation:
Prometheus was the anti-authoritarian self-made man, who empowered himself, built his life from scratch without the help of a devine birth and then took what needed to be taken from the powerful without caring too much about their permission (in fact no harm done, of course the gods still have their own fire too, but they just wanted to keep it all for themselves). And he had his pride about his self-empowerment and about all he had accomplished HIMSELF despite his low born start.

To better understand, read my favorite poem from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Simply replace “Zeus”/“the gods” by the “rich and the powerful born class” and “Prometheus” by yourself or “the self-made-man”.

You will see how Prometheus/you can be proud about the house he built on his own and in fact is envied by the gods for the warmth of his hearth. A warmth that they will be able to enjoy.
You will see that the gods/the rich born are poor in a sense that they all depend on the mercy of the people plus owe their whole status to our all masters: time and fate.
You will see that Prometheus/you overcomes disappointment, empowers himself and decides on his own to be as happy as the gods/the rich&powerful, and you can be as well.

You will understand that you, the self-made man/woman, have sources of happiness at your hand that the rich born will never know.

That is independence.
That is real comfort.
That will shield you and make you an upright and self-confident person, no matter where you stand on the “social ladder” of your country.

What a fantastic piece of art by Goethe!

(English translation of the poem here)

Prometheus

Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus,

Mit Wolkendunst!

Und übe, Knaben gleich,

Der Disteln köpft,

An Eichen dich und Bergeshöh’n!

Mußt mir meine Erde

Doch lassen steh’n,

Und meine Hütte,

Die du nicht gebaut,

Und meinen Herd,

Um dessen Glut

Du mich beneidest.

 

Ich kenne nichts Ärmeres

Unter der Sonn’ als euch Götter!

Ihr nähret kümmerlich

Von Opfersteuern

Und Gebetshauch

Eure Majestät

Und darbtet, wären

Nicht Kinder und Bettler

Hoffnungsvolle Toren.

 

Da ich ein Kind war,

Nicht wußte, wo aus, wo ein,

Kehrt’ ich mein verirrtes Auge

Zur Sonne, als wenn drüber wär

Ein Ohr zu hören meine Klage,

Ein Herz wie meins,

Sich des Bedrängten zu erbarmen.

 

Wer half mir

Wider der Titanen Übermut?

Wer rettete vom Tode mich,

Von Sklaverei?

Hast du’s nicht alles selbst vollendet,

Heilig glühend Herz?

Und glühtest, jung und gut,

Betrogen, Rettungsdank

Dem Schlafenden dadroben?

 

Ich dich ehren? Wofür?

Hast du die Schmerzen gelindert

Je des Beladenen?

Hast du die Tränen gestillet

Je des Geängsteten?

Hat nicht mich zum Manne geschmiedet

Die allmächtige Zeit

Und das ewige Schicksal,

Meine Herren und deine?

 

Wähntest du etwa,

Ich sollte das Leben hassen,

In Wüsten fliehn,

Weil nicht alle Knabenmorgen-

Blütenträume reiften?

 

Hier sitz’ ich, forme Menschen

Nach meinem Bilde,

Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sei,

Zu leiden, weinen,

Genießen und zu freuen sich,

Und dein nicht zu achten,

Wie ich!

 

(side note: Prometheus was harshly punished by the gods for his theft, thus be a bit careful with the “stealing” part 😉 )

Cheers,

Woodpecker

 

 

Poem – “Das Ideal” by Kurt Tucholsky

Castle Neuschwanstein, close to Munich.

Castle Neuschwanstein, close to Munich. Nice place I’d say, but owner Ludwig II committed suicide anyway…

One of my favorite poems about life that – despite our wishes – always refuses to be perfect. 🙂
Simply great.
(Sorry, German only)

Das Ideal

Ja, das möchste:
Eine Villa im Grünen mit großer Terrasse,
vorn die Ostsee, hinten die Friedrichstraße;
mit schöner Aussicht, ländlich-mondän,
vom Badezimmer ist die Zugspitze zu sehn –
aber abends zum Kino hast dus nicht weit.

Das Ganze schlicht, voller Bescheidenheit:

Neun Zimmer – nein, doch lieber zehn!
Ein Dachgarten, wo die Eichen drauf stehn,
Radio, Zentralheizung, Vakuum,
eine Dienerschaft, gut gezogen und stumm,
eine süße Frau voller Rasse und Verve –
(und eine fürs Wochenend, zur Reserve) –
eine Bibliothek und drumherum
Einsamkeit und Hummelgesumm.

Im Stall: Zwei Ponies, vier Vollbluthengste,
acht Autos, Motorrad – alles lenkste
natürlich selber – das wär ja gelacht!
Und zwischendurch gehst du auf Hochwildjagd.

Ja, und das hab ich ganz vergessen:
Prima Küche – erstes Essen –
alte Weine aus schönem Pokal –
und egalweg bleibst du dünn wie ein Aal.
Und Geld. Und an Schmuck eine richtige Portion.
Und noch ne Million und noch ne Million.
Und Reisen. Und fröhliche Lebensbuntheit.
Und famose Kinder. Und ewige Gesundheit.

Ja, das möchste!

Aber, wie das so ist hienieden:
manchmal scheints so, als sei es beschieden
nur pöapö, das irdische Glück.
Immer fehlt dir irgendein Stück.
Hast du Geld, dann hast du nicht Käten;
hast du die Frau, dann fehln dir Moneten –
hast du die Geisha, dann stört dich der Fächer:
bald fehlt uns der Wein, bald fehlt uns der Becher.

Etwas ist immer.
Tröste dich.

Jedes Glück hat einen kleinen Stich.
Wir möchten so viel: Haben. Sein. Und gelten.
Daß einer alles hat:
das ist selten.

(Kurt Tucholsky, 1927)

Poem on how to live – by Mother Teresa!

Sunset close to Cefalu, Sicily

Sunset close to Cefalu, Sicily

Today I have a lazy day. Thus I’ll benefit from the work of others, and present another poem, this time by Mother Teresa. Enjoy.

(To be honest, I never was interested too much about Mother Teresa and her life in the past, but probably it’d be a good idea to learn more about her…)

 

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

 

This struck me as a very powerful poem that says more about living life the right way than many long theories.

Somehow it occurs to me that she hits a quite fundamental truth here, even if you do not belief in god in a way she did.

Cheers and have a happy day,

Woodpecker

Poem: The Man in the Glass

Unfortunately, parental leave is over, the grim work-life has Woodpecker back again. My hope was that my boss would need a week or so to notice that I am back, but obviously he’s more organized than I thought. 😉
Thus a lot to do currently, but I fight hard to preserve my daily share of downshifting…

Therefore, today “only” a piece of poetry, but an absolute excellent one and one of my all time favorites.

 

The Man in the Glass
(by Dale Wimbrow)   Continue reading