It's important to be heroic, ambitious, productive, efficient, creative, and progressive, but these qualities don't necessarily nurture the soul. The soul has different concerns, of equal value: downtime for reflection, conversation, and reverie; beauty that is captivating and pleasuring; relatedness to the environs and to people; and any animal's rhythm of rest and activity.
Narcissus lays his head on the grass by the pool, and then he quietly disappears into the underworld, where he continues to gaze at the image in the waters of the river Styx. Our images, especially those that appear in life and play important roles in episodes of transformation, stay with us forever. Once we have entertained an image, it is always potentially present to our gaze. You visit the Uffizi Gallery and see Botticelli's "Primavera," and then for a lifetime you dream of it or you talk about it frequently as a measure of beauty. Unexpectedly it presents itself in a moment of thought or in a discussion, reminding you of its eternal presence. This fragment of the myth suggests that we might continually make soul out of our narcissism by preserving and tending to the images that have come to us throughout our lives. This is the basis of art therapy or journal-keeping: making a home for certain images that have been transforming. Certain photographs or old letters might be related to the pool of water. Culturally, of course, we are constantly invited into the depths of ourselves by the plays, paintings, sculptures, and buildings of past centuries. Art can be a cure for narcissism. The words "curator" and "cure" are essentially the same. By being the curator of our images, we care for our souls.
Pythagoras asks that we not let a friend go lightly, for whatever reason. Instead, we should stay with a friend as long as we can, until we're compelled to abandon him completely against our will. It's a serious thing to toss away money, but to cast aside a person is even more serious. Nothing in human life is more rarely found, nothing more dearly possessed. No loss is more chilling or more dangerous than that of a friend.
In a story told in many traditions and versions; a man is crouched over the ground at night under a lamppost obviously looking for something. A passerby asks, "Have you lost something?", "Yes, my key," he says. "Did you lose it here?" "No", he says, "over there, but there's light over here."
Only in a thoroughly unrelated world can we poison nature without conscience, neglect our children and the poor, and righteously slay thousands of enemy soldiers because we don't have the patience or imagination for negotiation.