“We are reading the first verse of the first chapter of a book whose pages are infinite...”
I do not know who wrote those words, but I have always liked them as a reminder that the future can be anything we want to make it. We can take the mysterious, hazy future and carve out of it anything that we can imagine, just as a sculptor carves a statue from a shapeless stone.
We are all in the position of the farmer. If we plant a good seed, we reap a good harvest. If our seed is poor and full of weeds, we reap a useless crop. If we plant nothing at all, we harvest nothing at all.
I want the future to be better than the past. I don’t want it contaminated by the mistakes and errors with which history is filled. We should all be concerned about the future because that is where we will spend the remainder of our lives.
The past is gone and static. Nothing we can do will change it. The future is before us and dynamic. Everything we do will affect it. Each day brings with it new frontiers, in our homes and in our business, if we only recognize them. We are just at the beginning of the progress in every field of human endeavor.
There is no better school than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve my performance next time. Never again will I contribute to my downfall by refusing to face the truth and learn from my past mistakes. Because I know: gems cannot shine without polish, and I can not perfect myself without hardship.
Now I know that there are no times in life when opportunity, the chance to be and do gathers so richly about my soul when it has to suffer cruel adversity. Then everything depends on whether I raise my head or lower it in seeking help. Whenever I am struck down, in the future, by any terrible defeat, I will inquire of myself, after the first pain has passed, how I can turn that adversity into good. What a great opportunity that moment may present……to take the bitter root I am holding and transform it into fragrant garden of flowers.
Always will I seek the seed of triumph in every adversity.
“I dread to come to the end of the year,said a friend to me recently, ”it makes me realize I am growing old.“
William James, the great psychologist, said that most men are ”old fogies at twenty-fiveHe was right. Most men at twenty-five are satisfied with their jobs. They have accumulated the little stock of prejudices that they call their “Principles, ” and closed their minds to all new ideas; they have ceased to grow.
The minutea man ceases to grow-no matter what his years-that minute he begins to be old. On the other hand, the really great man never grows old.
Goethe passed out at eighty-three, and finished his Faust only a few years earlier; Gladstone took up a new language when he was seventy. Laplace, the astronomer, was still at work when death caught up with him at seventy-eight. He died crying, “What we know is nothing; what we do not know is immense.”
And there you have the real answer to the question, “When is a man old?”
Laplace at seventy-eight died young. He was still unsatisfied, still sure that he had a lot to learn.
As long as a man can keep himself in that attitude of mind, as long as he can look back on every year and say , “I grew,” he is still young.
The minute he ceases to grow, the minute he says to himself, “I know all that I need to know,”--that day youth stops. He may be twenty-five or seventy-five, it makes no difference. On that day he begins to be old.
A young friend of mine asked me in a letter, “What kind of man should I be?” My answer was, “Be a fighter.”
Another friend of mine inquired, “How should I live my life?” Again my answer was, “Be a fighter.”
The author of In Praise of the Fighter says:
Riding on the ceaseless rushing torrent of life, I should pursue and overtake it so as to create an even greater and deeper torrent of my own.
If I were a lamp, it would be my duty to light up thick darkness. If I were the sea tide, I would marshal rolling waves to cleanse the beach of all accumulated filth.
This quotation reflects aptly the state of mind of a lighter.
Fighters are badly needed in our time. But such fighters do not necessarily go to the battle- field gun in hand. Their weapons are not necessarily bullets. Their weapons may be knowledge, faith and strong will. They can bring the enemy sure death without drawing his blood.
A fighter is always in pursuit of light. Instead of basking in the sunshine under a clear sky, he holds a burning torch in the darkness of night to illuminate people's way so that they can continue their journey till they see the dawn of a new day. It is the task of a fighter to dispel darkness. Instead of shirking darkness, he braves it and fights the hidden demons and monsters therein. He is determined to wipe them out and win light. He knows no compromise. He will keep on fighting until he wins light.
A fighter is perennially young. He is never irresolute or inactive. He plunges deep into teeming crowds in search of such vermin as flies and venomous mosquitoes. He will fight them relentlessly and refuse to coexist with them under the same sky. To him, life means nothing but continuous fighting. He either survives by winning light, or perishes with his body covered all over with cuts and bruises. In the course of the struggle, it is the “future” that serves as the beacon light to him; the “future” gives people hope and inspiration. He will never lose his youthful vigour.
A fighter will never lose heart or despair. He will pile up broken pieces of brick and stone to rebuild a nine-story pagoda on the ruins of failure. No blows will ever break his will. He will never close his eyes until he has breathed his last.
A fighter is always fearless. His steps are firm. Once he has settled on an objective, he will press right ahead. He is never afraid of being tripped by a stumbling block. No obstacles will ever make him change his mind. His eyes will never be hoodwinked by false appearances. His actions are guided by faith. He can endure any hardships or sufferings while striving to attain his chosen objective. He will never abandon work as long as he is alive.
This is the kind of fighter we now need. He is not necessarily possessed of superhuman capability. He is just an ordinary person. Anyone can be a fighter so long as he has the determination. Hence a few words of mine about “being a fighter” to encourage those young people who wander about in a depressed state, not knowing which way to go.