Friday, December 21, 2012

First and Second Things

First and Second Things
The woman who makes a dog the centre of her life loses, in the end, not only her human usefulness and dignity but even the proper pleasure of dog-keeping. The man who makes alcohol his chief good loses not only his job but his palate and all power of enjoying the earlier (and pleasurable) levels of intoxication. It is a glorious thing to feel for a moment or two that the whole meaning of the universe is summed up in one woman – glorious so long as other duties and pleasures keep tearing you away from her. But clear the decks and so arrange your life (it is sometimes feasible) that you will have nothing to do but contemplate her, and what happens? Of course this law has been discovered before, but it will stand re-discovery. It may be stated as follows: every preference of a small good to a great, or a partial good to a total good, involves the loss of the small or partial good for which the sacrifice was made. 
Apparently the world is made that way… You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first. From which it would follow that the question, “What things are first?” is of concern not only to philosophers but to everyone. 
- C.S. Lewis (from "Readings for Meditation and Reflection")

C.S. Lewis, in this excerpt, is talking about putting your spiritual life first, but it applies to all things. Without a solid foundation, elaborate trellises will be precarious at best. Without an adequate reserve of strength and fitness qualities, overly specialized training will only go so far.

If you find yourself lost, begin by re-tackling the question "What things are first?" and proceed from there.


Nathan Thompson said...

Good reminder. Looks like an interesting book.

Boris said...

Thank you Nathan - yes, it is!