Monday, October 26, 2009
What is the purpose of life on earth?
BEFORE water generates steam, it must register two hundred and twelve degrees of heat. Two hundred degrees will not do it; two hundred and ten will not do it. The water must boil before it will generate enough steam to move an engine, to run a train. Lukewarm water will not run anything.
A great many people are trying to move their life trains with lukewarm water - or water that is almost boiling - and they are wondering why they are stalled, why they cannot get ahead.
They are trying to run a boiler with two hundred or two hundred and ten degrees of heat, and they cannot understand why they do not get anywhere.
Luke warmness in his work stands in the same relation to man's achievement as lukewarm water does to the locomotive boiler. No man can hope to accomplish anything great in this world until he throws his whole soul, flings the force of his whole life, into it.
In Phillips Brooks's talks to young people, he used to urge them to be something with all their might. It is not enough simply to have a general desire to be something.
There is but one way to accomplish it; and that is, to strive to be somebody with all the concentrated energy we can muster. Any kind of a human being can wish for a thing, can desire it; but only strong, vigorous minds with great purposes can do things.
There is an infinite distance between the wishers and the doers. A mere desire is lukewarm water, which never will take a train to its destination; the purpose must boil, must be made into live stream to do the work.
Who would ever have heard of Theodore Roosevelt outside of his immediate community if he had only half committed himself to what he had undertaken; if he had brought only part of himself to his task?
The great secret of his career has been that he has flung his whole life, not a part of it, with all the determination and energy and power he could muster, into everything he has undertaken.
No dillydallying, no faint-hearted efforts, no lukewarm purpose for him!
Every life of power must have a great master purpose which takes precedence of all other motives — a supreme principle which is so commanding and so imperative in its demands for recognition and exercise that there can be no mistaking its call. Without this the water of energy will never reach the boiling point, the life train will not get anywhere.
The man with a vigorous purpose is a positive, constructive, creative force. No one can be resourceful, inventive, original or creative without powerful concentration; and the undivided focusing of the mind is only possible along the line of the ambition, the life purpose.
We cannot focus the mind upon a thing we are not interested in and enthusiastic about.
A man ought to look upon his career as a great artist looks upon his masterpiece, as an outpicturing of his best self, upon which he dwells with infinite pride and a satisfaction which nothing else can give. Yet many people are so loosely connected with their vocation that they are easily separated from it.
I know young men who seem anxious to get on in their careers, but in a single evening they could be induced to give up their calling for something else. They are always wondering whether they are in the right place, or where their ability will count most. They lose heart when they strike obstacles; or they become discouraged when they hear of some one else who has made a success in some other line, and wonder if they had not better try something in the same line.
If one is so loosely attached to his occupation that he can be easily induced to give it up, you may be sure that he is not in the right place. If nature has called you to a position, if the call runs in your blood, it is a part of your life and you cannot get away from it. It is not a separate thing from yourself.
It exists in every brain cell, every nerve cell; every blood corpuscle contains some of it. You can no more get away from it than a leopard can get away from his spots. So when a young man asks me if I do not think he had better make a change, I feel very certain that he is not in the place God called him to, for the thing he was made for is as much a part of his real being as his temperament. It is nearer to him than his heartbeat, closer than his breath. There is a photograph of the thing he was made for, in every cell in his body. He cannot get away from it.
The thing which will make the life distinctive, which will make it a power, is the one supreme thing which we want to do, and feel that we must do; and, no matter how long we may be delayed from this aim, or how far we may be swerved aside by mistakes or iron circumstances, we should never give up hope or a determination to pursue our object.
Some people have not the moral courage, the persistence, the force of character, to get the things out of the way which stand between them and their ambition. They allow themselves to be pushed this way and that way into things for which they have no fitness or taste.
Their will power is not strong enough to enable them to fight their way to their goal. They are pushed aside by the pressure about them, and do the things for which they have little or no liking or adaptation.
If there is anything in the world a person should fight for, it is freedom to pursue his ideal, because in that is his great opportunity for self-expression, for the unfoldment of the greatest thing possible to him. It is his great chance to make his life tell in the largest, completest way; to do the most original, distinctive thing possible to him.
If he does not pursue his ideal, does not carry out his supreme aim, his life will be more or less of a failure, no matter how much he may be actuated by a sense of duty, or how much he may exert his will power to overcome his handicap.
There is great power in a resolution that has no reservation in it - a strong, persistent, tenacious purpose which burns all bridges behind it, clears all obstacles from its path, and arrives at its goal, no matter how long it may take, no matter what the sacrifice or the cost.
The inspiration of a great, positive aim transforms the life and revolutionizes a shiftless, ambitionless, good-for-nothing man as if some divine energy had worked in him - even as love sometimes transforms a slovenly, purposeless, coarse man into a clean, methodical, diviner being.
When the awakening power of a new purpose, a resolute aim, is born in a man, he is a new creature. He sees everything in a new light. The doubts, the fears, the apathy, the vicious temptations which dogged his steps only yesterday, the stagnation which had blighted his past life, all vanish as if by magic.
They are dispelled by the breath of a new purpose. Beauty and system take the place of unsightliness and confusion. Order reigns in the place of anarchy. All his slumbering faculties awaken to activity.
The effect of this new ambition is like the clarifying change made by a waterway in a stagnant, swampy district. The water clarifies as soon as it begins to move, to do something; flowers spring up in place of poisonous weeds, and vegetation, beauty, birds and song make joyous the once miasmic atmosphere.
Chemists tell us that when a compound is broken up and an atom is released from the attraction of other atoms, it takes on new energy and immediately seeks combination with another free atom; but the longer it remains alone, the weaker it becomes. It seems to lose much of its vitality and power of attraction when idle.
When the atom is first freed from the grasp of its fellows, it is called nascent — "new born." It is then that it has its maximum of gripping power; and if it finds a free atom immediately after it is released, it will unite with it with greater vigor than ever. The power seems to go out of it, if it delays its union with another atom.
Mythology tells us that Minerva, the goddess of Wisdom, sprang complete, full-orbed, full-grown, from Jupiter's brain.
Man's highest conception, his most effective thought, most inventive and resourceful ideas, and grandest visions spring full-orbed, complete, with their maximum of power, spontaneously from the brain.
Men who postpone their visions, who delay the execution of their ideas, who bottle up their thoughts, to be used at a more convenient time, are always weaklings. The forceful, vigorous, effective men are those who execute their ideas while they are full of the enthusiasm of inspiration.
Our ideas, our visions, our resolutions come to us fresh every day, because this is the divine program for the day, not for to-morrow.
Another inspiration, new ideas will come to-morrow.
Today we should carry out the inspiration of the day.
A divine vision flashes across the artist's mind with lightning-like rapidity, but it is not convenient for him to seize his brush and fasten the immortal vision before it fades.
He keeps turning it over and over in his mind. It takes possession of his very soul but he is not in his studio, or it is not convenient to put his divine vision upon canvas, and the picture gradually fades from his mind.
A strong, vigorous conception flashes into the brain of the writer, and he has an almost irresistible impulse to seize his pen and transfer the beautiful images and the fascinating conception to paper; but it is not convenient at the moment, and, while it seems almost impossible to wait, he postpones the writing.
The images and the conception keep haunting him, but he still postpones. Finally the visions grow dimmer and dimmer, and at last fade away and are lost forever.
There is a reason for all this.
Why do we have these strong, vigorous impulses; these divine visions of splendid possibilities? Why do they come to us with such rapidity and vigor, such vividness and suddenness?
It is because it is intended that we shall use them while fresh, execute them while the inclination is hot. Our ideas, our visions are like the manna of the wilderness, which the Israelites were obliged to gather fresh every day. If they undertook to hoard it, it became stale, the nourishment evaporated, the life went out of it.
They could not use old manna.
There is something about allowing a strong resolution to evaporate without executing it that has a deteriorating influence upon the character. It is the execution of a plan that makes stamina. Almost anybody can resolve to do a great thing; it is only the strong, determined character that puts the resolve into execution.
If we could only make our highest moments permanent, what splendid things we should do in life, and what magnificent beings we should become; but we let our resolutions cool, our visions fade until it is more convenient to execute them, and they are gone.
There is no easier way in which one can hypnotize or deceive himself than by thinking that because he is always making great resolutions he is doing something worthwhile or carrying them out.
I know a man who would feel insulted if any one were to intimate that he had not been a hard worker, and had not accomplished a great deal in life; and yet although he is an able man, his whole life has been spent in jumping out of one thing and into another so quickly that one could scarcely see the change.
Yet every time you see him he carries his head high, he is as enthusiastic and optimistic as though his whole life had been one triumphant march. His enthusiasm is intense - but it fades away just as quickly as it came.
The very fact that he always lives in the clouds, is always dreaming of the great things he is going to do, seems to convince him that he actually does them. But he never stays at one thing long enough to reach effectiveness. His whole life has been spent in starting things brilliantly and enthusiastically, few men have ever begun so many things as he, or completed so few.
The putting off habit will kill the strongest initiative. Too much caution and lack of confidence are fatal enemies of initiative. How much easier it is to do a thing when the purpose impels us, when enthusiasm carries us along, than when everything drags in the postponement! One is drudgery, the other delight.
Hungering and striving after knowledge is what makes a scholar; hungering and striving after virtue is what makes a saint; hungering and striving after noble action is what makes a hero and a man.
The great successes we see everywhere are
but the realization of an intense longing, a
Everyone is gravitating toward his aim just in proportion to the power and intensity of his desire, and his struggle to realize it.
One merely "desires" to do this or that, or "wishes" he could, or "would be glad" if he could. Another knows perfectly well that, if he lives, he is going to do the thing he sets his heart on if it is within the limits of human possibility. We do not hear him whining because nobody will pay his way to college.
He does not say he "wishes" he could go. He says, "I am going to prepare myself for the great life work. I have faith in my future. I have made a vow to myself to succeed, and I am going to do so on a broad-gauge plan. I am not going to start out half equipped, half fitted. I will have a college training."
When you find a boy who resolves within himself that, come what will, he is going to do the thing he sets his heart on, and that there are no "ifs" or "buts" or "ands" about it, you may be sure he is made of winning stuff.
He will not postpone and post-pone the realization of his vision until too late, until its glory has vanished. He will lose no time in putting forth all his energy to make it real, and, if it is a possible thing he will succeed.
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