The Thought for the Day/John C Miller, on Alexander Hamilton

…his life seemed to prove that the valorous were the favorites of fortune. He was simply inviting the [Constitutional] Convention to do what he had done repeatedly – to aim as high as possible and to strain every nerve to attain the goal.
John C Miller
Alexander Hamilton: Profile in Paradox


This is the second consecutive quote from this book, so we will dispense with our usual introductory paragraph, except to say this was one heck of a biography, thoughtful from start to finish and even garnering a chuckle from time to time. Both those who are familiar with Hamilton or who are doing their first substantive reading on him will enjoy it and in another column, we were pleased to issue it our second-highest rating, right below the very best this species can produce.

…his life seemed to prove that the valorous were the favorites of fortune.

There’s an old military saying in this same vein that fortune favors the brave and, indeed, it does…Not the foolhardy, but the brave. Bravery, of course,  is not always rewarded and, in fact, comes up short again and again, but the valorous succeed much more often than the timid. As we like to say, no one climbs Mount Everest wandering around the Gobi Desert.

…to aim as high as possible and to strain every nerve to attain the goal.

Hamilton had a definite and certain vision for the government of the United States (not to mention a vision for his social and political status) a vision so bold and audacious – a word that comes up from time to time with Hamilton – it drew the opposition of other great thinkers of the day, like Thomas Jefferson.

We should be aiming high, too, and this is easier than it may sound. Merely dispensing with the cacophony of outside influences and following our inner calling is sufficient. All of us – you, me, your aunt in Leadville – have things we were meant to do with our lives and the happiest lives are spent by those who do them. These things could cause us to live down the ages or merely be fondly remembered by those whose lives we touched, but this is of no consequence. A life spent on our path is all we need in this life. 

All we need is the wisdom to know what we are about, the courage to go where our hearts tell us and the patience to see it through to the very end. When we do that, we withdraw every possible benefit from our lives because our paths take us exactly where we are meant to go.

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

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