It’s a spectacular Saturday afternoon: 88, sunshine, breezy … red-roasted blooms abound. But I’m hanging indoors at my computer with dogs at my feet and patio doors open and tennis on TV in the background. Typing. This book, contrary to my every dream and desire, refuses to write itself. The nerve.
The narrator in Stegner’s CROSSING TO SAFETY is a writer. Here are two paragraphs I read this morning over coffee:
Thinking about it now, I am struck by how modest my aims were. I didn’t expect to hit any jackpots. I had no definite goal. I merely wanted to do well what my inclinations and training led me to do, and I suppose I assumed that somehow far off, some good might flow from it. I had no idea what. I respected literature and its vague addiction to truth at least as much as tycoons are supposed to respect money and power, but I never had time to sit down and consider why I respected it.
Ambition is a path, not a destination, and it is essentially the same path for everybody. No matter what the goal is, the path leads through Pilgrim’s Progress regions of motivation, hard work, persistence, stubbornness, and resilience under disappointment. Unconsidered, merely indulged, ambition becomes a vice; it can turn a man into a machine that knows nothing but how to run. Considered, it can be something else — pathway to the stars, maybe.
Here’s to the path.
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