And then the long days and nights of reading… – Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man
Louis L’Amour is a fairly regular contributor here at the Thought for the Day. Louis will probably never be ranked on anyone’s short list of America’s most technically proficient writers. As we’ve noted before here, the critic who said L’Amour probably would’ve benefited from a freshman composition course was probably right.
But L’Amour didn’t have the benefit of a freshman composition course. He left home early and was completely self-educated as a writer. He picked up odd jobs where he could before he started selling stories and, later, books, to publishers. It was this wandering life that gave L’Amour the experiences that not only provided the inspiration for his books but gave him the insights into our human experience that you pay us writers to provide. For our money, he did that better than anyone in the annals of English letters except Gore Vidal.
And then the long days and nights of reading…
No matter where his wanderings took him, L’Amour read every day because he was compelled to do so from deep inside. He had no choice; nature made it for him. Later, when the time came to write – in a cheap rented room on a rented typewriter at the start – he did that most every day, too.
L’Amour is a good example of a person doing what he was meant to do with his life and doing it every day. It’s a lesson for all of us.
What should we be doing every day? It’s the only question that really matters, and finding a satisfactory answer is one of life’s great prizes because it takes courage to ask yourself this question and it takes patience to search inside yourself and find the answer. Then it takes diligence and more courage to go out and live the life you were meant to live.
It doesn’t really matter what it is, either. It could be something as common as providing a good example for your kids or building a chair or playing your piano. The only requirements are that it comes from deep inside you, from the bottom of your heart, and that you, also, do it every day.
Anyone can do something once or twice, but few can get up every morning and face the relentless force that is your calling. You can’t do it some days and not others, some years and not others. If you are going to examine your life and tell yourself you did well you must relentlessly follow your heart every day.
And we must do it without regard to whether external forces applaud or hiss, whether we remain obscure or live down the ages. When we do these things, when we’ve made our time serve us instead of merely serving time, a life well lived, a life we look back on with satisfaction, awaits.