The Greatest Stress

Nietzsch-Dissertation Advice

At the risk of sounding too philosophical this month, here’s one of my favorite passages.  Nietzsche, in 1882, wrote about “The Greatest Stress.”  Essentially he said to imagine that what has happened, and is happening, will happen again and again and again (eternal recurrence).

“This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence –Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?  Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine!”

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If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you; the question in each and every thing, “Do you desire this once more, and innumerable times more?” would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight! Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?” — Nietzsche

He infers that we have a choice in every moment.  Those choices involve every aspect of life: family life, work life, your personal and moral life, and also in your school life.  It’s sometimes easy to feel like things are happening to us, “I have to jump through IRB hoops, endless dissertation revisions, lack of committee direction or competence….”

I’m reminded too about stories from those in Auschwitz.  While many got depressed (and had every right to be), there were others comforting others and giving up their last pieces of bread; in the middle of horror they were choosing their state of being.

So I’m inviting you to regain your sense of personal power and know that you are choosing, if nothing else, your attitude.    My job is to help you graduate—your job is to approach your education process the way you want to.

I wish you success, peace, and a speedy graduation!