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From IF
Rudyard Kipling



If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath[e] a word about your loss;

[ . . . ]

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!



* * *

To risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss: to return what was not yours before and thus never yours at all. Either it was pure accident or pure gift or purely absurd; and whatever it may be, there is no logic in keeping what you do not deserve because the world does not owe any one anything but only the other way around: you owe the world everything.


And when you owe everything, every thing is struck with grace and grandeur, worth and value, wonder and delight. And to wonder at everything makes you aware of the beauty of this stone, and the fear of that awesome mountain, weep for the death of a fallen blue jay, and embrace fortunes blessed or bad.


Wonder is the beginning of philosophy. And only the philosopher owns all and nothing at all.



Diogenes, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1860





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