The Thought for the Day/Gustave Flaubert

Talent is nothing but long patience.
Gustave Flaubert


Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) was a French novelist, known as a writer who avoided cliches, preferring to take whatever time was necessary to find the exact word he was looking for. This didn’t always work and Flaubert is rumored to have never been completely satisfied with anything he wrote. Flaubert wrote from an early age and, knowing this was what he was about, he couldn’t be bothered with the cacophony that attends married and family life, with a biographer claiming he only had one serious romantic relationship, in his 20s and 30s with the poet Louise Colet, who was married at the time. That out of his system, he was free to pursue his life’s work. His exacting temperament ensured that it required five years to produce his first novel Madame Bovary, a groundbreaking work that depicted life as it actually was, a rather new concept at the time and Flaubert remains one of the more influential literary realists.

Regular readers of this feature know we talk about there being three elements to success: wisdom, courage and patience. We must have the wisdom to know the life we were meant to live and the courage to go and live that life, but all the wisdom and courage, not to mention talent, will do us some zero good if we do not have the patience to see our journey through to the very end.

The work of being on our path simply does not stop. If we are going to make our time serve us instead of merely marking time while on this planet we must be on our path every day. Not some days and not others, not some weeks and not others, every day of every week of every year. It will not always be a bed of roses and there will be attainments – life’s great prize – and failures – life’s great lesson. 

Talent is nothing but long patience…

We must find what we are meant to do and do it. It doesn’t matter what this is, either. All that matters is that it comes from deep inside you, that you are answering to your heart instead of merely chasing the proverbial windmills offered by outside influences. When we do this, we are living the life we are meant to live. When we have the patience to do it every day – life’s great challenge – we will look back on a life well-lived. 

Flaubert wrote. The guy who fixes my car grew up wanting to be a mechanic, so that’s what he does. What do you do?

Quotes are from Gaylon’s personal quote book, begun in 1988 in a hotel room in Berkeley, California.

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