philosophy · Religion

Kierkegaard

Do not worry about what you will wear — the pagans seek all these things.

This care the bird does not have. Sparrows are divided into grey sparrows and yellow — or, if you please, gold sparrows, but this distinction, this classification of “lowly/eminent” does not exist for them or for any one of them. The other birds do indeed follow the bird that flies at the head of the flock or to the right; there is the distinction first and last, to the right and the left. But the distinction lowly/eminent does not exist; in their bold wheeling flight when the flock is soaring lovely and free in aerial formations, first and last, right and left also change. And when the thousand voices sing in chorus, there certainly is one that strikes the note; there is this distinction. But lowly/eminent, this distinction does not exist, and joy lives freely in the alternating of voices. It gratifies “the single individual” so indescribably to sing in chorus with the others; yet it does not sing to gratify the others. It is gratified by its singing and the singing of the others; therefore it stops quite abruptly, pauses for a moment, until it is again inclined to join in — and to hear itself.

The bird, then, does not have this care. Why is this so? It is because the bird is what it is, is itself, is satisfied with being itself, is contented with itself. It hardly knows distinctly or realizes clearly what it is, even less that it should know something about others. But it is contented with itself and with what it is, whatever that happens to be. It does not have time to ponder or even merely to begin to ponder — so contented is it with being what it is. In order to be, in order to have the joy of being, it does not have to walk the long road of first learning to know something about the others in order by that to find out what it is itself. No, it has its knowledge firsthand; it takes the more pleasurable shortcut: it is what it is. For the bird there is no question of to be or not to be; by way of the shortcut it slips past all the cares of dissimilarity. Whether it is a bird just like all other birds, whether it is “just as good a bird” as the others of the same species, indeed, even whether it is just like its mate — of all such things it does not think at all, so impatient it is in its joy of being. No young girl on the point of leaving for a dance can be as impatient to leave as the bird is to set about being what it is. It has not a moment, not the briefest, to give away if this would delay it from being; the briefest moment would be a fatally long time for it if at that moment it was not allowed to be what it is; it would die of impatience at the least little objection to being summarily allowed to be. It is what it is, but it is. It lets things take their course, and so it is. This is indeed the way it is.

and some further context …

But the lowly Christian does not fall into the snare of this optical illusion. He sees with the eyes of faith; with the speed of faith that seeks god he is at the beginning, is himself before God, is contented with being himself. He has found out from the world or from the others that he is a lowly person, but he does not abandon himself to this knowledge; he does not lose himself in it in a worldly way, does not become totally engrossed in it; by holding fast to God with the reservedness of eternity, he has become himself.

I’ll hopefully remember to come back and source this when I have the energy to get over to my bookcase.

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