Pessoa’s “Notes for a rule of life”

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Being self-employed, I do most things in my business myself. I am terrible with numbers, but today, I battled through and completed my tax return. The paperwork is all in Japanese, but that is not the problem – the numbers are the problem. I eventually finished it, but it took me the best part of the day. Tired, I absent-mindedly opened Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet and landed on the following passage. It made me smile! On today of all days!

“To need to dominate others is to need others. The commander is dependent.

Enlarge your personality without including anything from the outside – asking nothing from others and imposing nothing on others, but being others when you need them.

Reduce your necessities to a minimum, so as not to depend on anyone for anything.

It’s true that such a life is impossible in the absolute. But it’s not impossible relatively.

Let’s consider a man who owns and runs an office. He should be able to do without his employees; he should be able to type, to balance the books, to sweep the office. He should depend on others because it saves him time, not because he’s incompetent. Let him tell the office boy to put a letter in the post because he doesn’t want to lose time going to the post office, not because he doesn’t know where the post office is. Let him tell a clerk to take care of a certain matter because he doesn’t want to waste time on it, not because he doesn’t know how to take care of it.”

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