The Thought for the Day – Gore Vidal and King Xerxes

He too, was greedy – for honor. By allowing his ruling passion avarice to be overruled by love of glory, he destroyed himself. It is always a mistake to act out of character. – Gore Vidal, Creation


For our money Creation is about as good a book as the English language has produced. As entertaining as it is thoughtful, Vidal does an utterly brilliant job – perhaps the best in American letters – of offering the insights into our human experience you pay us writers to provide.

The above quote refers to the ancient Persian king Xerxes, who was hell bent on carving an legacy for himself on the battlefield, which he never really did, instead of doing what he really preferred, frolicking with the young women in his harem. To show their disfavor with Xerxes, the fates had him assassinated by the commander of his royal guard after about a generation on the throne.

We must be ourselves. Problems in our lives result when we’re not. All of us have a heart telling us what to do with our lives and instincts telling us how to get there, but too many of us ignore these, preferring to live reacting to outside influences. All this will get us is an unfulfilling life well removed from what we really should be doing. Or, worse, living vicariously through the famous generally exploited for that purpose, usually in order to sell us a movie ticket or a music download or something equally important.

All these things distract us from what we really should be doing with our lives, which is living from the inside, putting to use the talents and ambitions nature issued us at birth.

It is always a mistake to act out of character.

Who we are and what we were meant to do on this planet comes from the inside. When we are not ourselves, when we are living our lives solely reacting to outside influences, is when we run into problems in our lives.

Similarly, we must allow others the dignity of living without the benefit of interference from us. When we do this, when we follow our path and let others follow theirs, is when we find harmony and the life we were meant to live.

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