Make no mistake, I am very aware that for some time to come things will be difficult for many of us. The economy and the culture will be changing, changing in ways we are unsure of, where we may be fearful for what will come. Perhaps I am foolish enough to be American enough to feel and think that we not merely endure but succeed, succeed in ways we don’t yet comprehend. And again, foolish enough to believe in this success for myself and others going through this long period of change.
The other day I was fumbling for a Nietzsche quote in my head, and after throwing out a few bad New Yorker articles, Adam Sandler movies, and more posts, tweets and emails that I can’t believe I wrote, I found it, buried in my heart almost 40 years ago. Nietzsche is talking about God, but substitute “work” for the Lord:
The background of our cheerfulness. The greatest recent event — that “God is dead,” that the belief in the Christian God has ceased to be believable — is even now beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe.For the few at least, whose eyes, whose suspicion in their eyes is strong and sensitive enough for that spectacle, some sun seems to have set just now…. In the main, however, this may be said: the event itself is much too great, too distant, too far from the comprehension of the many even for the tidings of it to be thought of as having arrived yet, not to speak of the notion that many people might know what has really happened here, and what must collapse now that this belief has been undermined — all that was built upon it, leaned on it, grew into it; for example, our whole European morality…
Even we born guessers of riddles who are, as it were, waiting on the mountains, put there between today and tomorrow, and stretched in the contradiction between today and tomorrow, we firstlings and premature births of the coming century, to whom the shadows that must soon envelop Europe really should have appeared by now — why is it that even we look forward to it without any real compassion for this darkening, and above all without any worry and fear for ourselves? Is it perhaps that we are still too deeply impressed by the first consequences of this event — and these first consequences, the consequences for us, are perhaps the reverse of what one might expect: not at all sad and dark, but rather like a new, scarcely describable kind of light, happiness, relief, exhilaration, encouragement, dawn? Indeed, we philosophers and “free spirits” feel as if a new dawn were shining on us when we receive the tidings that “the old god is dead”; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, anticipation, expectation. At last the horizon appears free again to us, even granted that it is not bright; at last our ships may venture out again, venture out to face any danger; all the daring of the lover of knowledge is permitted again; the sea, our sea, lies open again; perhaps there has never been such an “open sea.”
– The Gay Science, Book V, aphorism 343