It is curious that our own offenses should seem so much less heinous than the offenses of others. I suppose the reason is that we know all the circumstances that have occasioned them and so manage to excuse in ourselves what we cannot excuse in others. We turn our attention away from our own defects, and when we are forced by untoward events to consider them, find it easy to condone them. For all I know we are right to do this; they are part of us and we must accept the good and bad in ourselves together.
But when we come to judge others, it is not by ourselves as we really are that we judge them, but by an image that we have formed of ourselves fro which we have left out everything that offends our vanity or would discredit us in the eyes of the world. To take a trivial instance: how scornful we are when we catch someone out telling a lie; but who can say that he has never told not one, but a hundred?
There is not much to choose between men. They are all a hotchpotch of greatness and littleness, of virtue and vice, of nobility and baseness. Some have more strength of character, or more opportunity, and so in one direction or another give their instincts freer play, but potentially they are the same. For my part, I do not think I am any better or any worse than most people, but I know that if I set down every action in my life and every thought that has crossed my mind, the world would consider me a monster of depravity. The knowledge that these reveries are common to all men should inspire one with tolerance to oneself as well as to others. It is well also if they enable us to look upon our fellows, even the most eminent and respectable, with humor, and if they lead us to take ourselves not too seriously.
When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you, yield to him, though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you, believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to our roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
But if, in your fear, you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not, nor would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a payer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
We are not born with courage, but neither are we born with fear. Maybe some of our fears are brought on by your own experiences, by what someone has told you, by what you’ve read in the papers. Some fears are valid, like walking alone in a bad part of town at two o’clock in the morning. But once you learn to avoid that situation, you won’t need to live in fear of it.
Fears, even the most basic ones, can totally destroy our ambitions. Fear can destroy fortunes. Fear can destroy relationships. Fear, if left unchecked, can destroy our lives. Fear is one of the many enemies lurking inside us.
Let me tell you about five of the other enemies we face from within. The first enemy that you’ve got to destroy before it destroys you is indifference. What a tragic disease this is! “Ho-hum, let it slide. I’ll just drift along.” Here’s one problem with drifting: you can’t drift your way to the top of the mountain.
The second enemy we face is indecision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity and enterprise. It will steal your chances for a better future. Take a sword to this enemy.
The third enemy inside is doubt. Sure, there’s room for healthy skepticism. You can’t believe everything. But you also can’t let doubt take over. Many people doubt the past, doubt the future, doubt each other, doubt the government, doubt the possibilities nad doubt the opportunities. Worse of all, they doubt themselves. I’m telling you, doubt will destroy your life and your chances of success. It will empty both your bank account and
your heart. Doubt is an enemy. Go after it. Get rid of it.
The fourth enemy within is worry. We’ve all got to worry some. Just don’t let conquer you. Instead, let it alarm you. Worry can be useful. If you step off the curb in New York City and a taxi is coming, you’ve got to worry. But you can’t let worry loose like a mad dog that drives you into a small corner. Here’s what you’ve got to do with your worries: drive them into a small corner. Whatever is out to get you, you’ve got to get it. Whatever is pushing on you, you’ve got to push back.
The fifth interior enemy is overcaution. It is the timid approach to life. Timidity is not a virtue; it’s an illness. If you let it go, it’ll conquer you. Timid people don’t get promoted. They don’t advance and grow and become powerful in the marketplace. You’ve got to avoid overcaution.
Do battle with the enemy. Do battle with your fears. Build your courage to fight what’s holding you back, what’s keeping you from your goals and dreams. Be courageous in your life and in your pursuit of the things you want and the person you want to become.