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Letter to a boy at Finchden (circa 1954)

From Mr G.A. LYWARD M.A.


Dear ---------

'I hope you will welcome a letter from me even if it is only a small one. At the time I went away you were beginning to see things clearer. This is to say that I hope you are able to use that time as a kind of base from which to move on. There is no need for me to tell you that you have gifts. But it is important for you to discover that your real need at the moment is to measure yourself; as it were, with your contemporaries of all kinds (not primarily the clever ones by any means).

This is the way to develop what I suppose must be called "guts". You see, you use up what guts you've got in rebelling or grumbling or "digging your toes in". Once you've started using them to mix and accept other people, (independent of their brains or attainments), just because they're there, all kinds of things would happen. I had the feeling that you were on the verge of seeing this, and that is why I have written. I've tried not to put it scientifically. But I know you will be on better terms with yourself, as soon as you do what I have tried to hint at above. Whoever or whatever (again to put it that way) robbed you of your guts, only you can start acting in those ways which will reassure yourself that you've got them.

'This might perhaps be put "robbed of living your own life, so that you could live theirs"; but you must remember that it's no good sitting down and saying "now I'll live mine". That is best achieved by accepting the fact of other people around you and that we are all linked up; and not being "selective". Gradually, if you do that, you will find that you are living a life of your own (you can't do that in a vacuum). You need not confuse the above with "Being unselfish", etc. I'm merely suggesting that you accept a fact - the existence of others round you - and by "accept" I mean "in practice". (The other thing would be mere acquiescence).'


taken from Mr Lyward's Answer
by Michael Burn, Chapter 10
link to above quote in context

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