The Thought for the Day – Ngaio Marsh

So easily do our standards adjust themselves to our circumstances that whereas on her first night at the Vulcan the Greenroom had seemed a blessed haven, her hours of precarious security had bred a longing for a bed and ordered cleanliness, and she began to dread the night. – Ngaio Marsh, Night at the Vulcan

Dame Ngaoi (Nigh-oh) Marsh (1895-9182) was a New Zealandic writer specializing in detective stories. Like virtually of her works, Night at the Vulcan features Detective Roderick Alleyn of London’s Metropolitan Police and like some of her works the book centers around the theater. The main character is a young actress named Martyn Tarne, whose circumstances were such she was obliged to stay in the theater’s green room until a more suitable place could be found and A Night at the Vulcan was titled Opening Night everywhere but the US.

So easily do our standards adjust themselves to our circumstances…

As we say here occasionally, one of the things you pay us writers for is to shed some light into the emotions that attend our human experience and this line is one of the most insightful we’ve read. Us humans are eminently adaptable and after a time what has become common tends to become normal.

This is true for every circumstance. A couple of nights at the Beverly Hills Hotel and the ensuing stay at a Hampton Inn seems like a night in a slum when there is no one to park your car or take your bags to your suite. By the same token, a stretch of reduced circumstances can easily cause one to throw up their hands, toss it all in and say this is the way it is now. Our standards can be very flexible because it is easier to accept the way things happen to be then it is to go and do something about them. It’s easier to take the path of least resistance.

We must remain strong in this life. We all have a purpose for our time on this planet and our lives are happiest when we put that purpose to maximum use. Doing this, however, is not always easy: livings have to be earned, families and friends demand our attention – sometimes when we’d rather they didn’t – or maybe the car needs repairing or the cat is sick.

Throughout all this our path beckons, calling us from deep inside. The only real choice we have to make in this life is are going to heed this call or ignore it? Are we going to live from the inside out, or look back on a life spent merely reacting to outside influences?

It’s a choice we must make every day. Our calling is relentless. It never goes away. We must have the wisdom to recognize it, the courage to follow it and the patience to see it through to the end. 

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Gaylon began stockpiling quotes in 1988.

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