Of course you did. Have you forgotten you?
I must have.
I haven’t. You were ambitious.
Perhaps you’re right. I have pretty much forgotten me.
– Gore Vidal, Empire
Empire is a historical novel from Gore Vidal. It covers the lives of assorted fictional characters and real people from 1898-1907. It is part of his Narratives of Empire series, a sweeping, mostly fictional chronicle of America from the Revolution through the middle of the 20th century.
Today’s Thought sums up life nicely. We grow up going to bed at night dreaming of doing things. It could be anything – ballplayer, nurse, baker, it doesn’t matter. Some things we might outgrow, but some stay with us throughout our formative years. We head into adulthood with these dreams still with us and we have to decide whether to chase them or whether to take a pass and do other things with our lives.
Decades later we look back at our decision. If we chased our dreams, no doubt we caught some while others – equally without doubt – probably have eluded us. It’s the way the world is built. This planet is filled with billions of people leading billions of random lives and sometimes some things are out of our control.
If we didn’t chase our dreams, we are going to have to answer for that, too. And we will answer to ourselves. We will be left wondering what if.
There can be no greater failure in life. All of us were born with certain talents and ambitions and this world functions best – both individually and collectively – when we are getting the most out of them. When we ignore them, when we live a life we were not meant to live, we find our lives unhappy and unsatisfying.
Have you forgotten you?
It’s easy to forget ourselves. Every day there are a thousand different things there to distract us from what we were meant to do: family and work obligations, Mother Nature telling us to go and reproduce, the lawn needs mowing. We must overcome these obstacles and we must do it every day because that’s how often they’re there.
You were ambitious.
Ambition sometimes serves us well. Sometimes it doesn’t.
On the one hand, ambition is what gets things done. Christopher Columbus didn’t discover the New World because he stayed in port.
On the other hand, ambition can be limiting because sometimes what we want is not the most we are capable of. We run into this anytime we do something in response to an outside influence because ambition must come from inside. It must not be driven by external forces. It must be driven by the instincts that will tell us what we are supposed to be doing with our lives.
We can never forget us. We must always be mindful of what we were meant to be.