The Thought for the Day – Saul Bellow

I almost never think of my calendar years. I’m forever hiking across the same plateau with no end in sight. – Saul Bellow, Ravelstein


Saul Bellow was a Canadian-American writer. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976. Ravelstein is the first book of his we could be bothered to read.

It’s common, of course, for us to chronicle the passing of the years. Most of us celebrate our birthdays. From youth to adulthood to middle age to our final years, the birthdays, as well as the waypoints and milestones along the way, all provide ways to mark the passing of our lives.

Is it necessary, though?

Must we define ourselves by our age? After all, this is merely a marking of how much time we’ve passed on this planet. In no way does it measure what we’ve accomplished or whether or not we’ve passed a useful life.

No, we must define ourselves by what we’ve accomplished, about how we’ve made out time and talents serve us.

I’m forever hiking across the same plateau…

We must be true to our nature. All of us have a path we were meant to follow, a plateau we were meant to cross…The happiest lives are spent by those who are relentless in crossing their plateau, who work hard to construct the lives they were meant to live.

And it’s different for everybody. You’re reading this because something inside compelled me to write it. To not yield to that compulsion would have been foolish, a missed opportunity to do something I was meant to do. Others have no interest in writing, just like I have no interest in building a chair or running a cattle ranch. It’s how the world is built. Nature gave us all varying interests and skills and this world runs better when we are all utilizing them.

What is nature compelling you to do today? What talents are your instincts telling you to utilize? Will you trust these instincts to make your time serve you, or will you ignore them and while away an aimless day?

Every day the choice is ours. When we choose to hike across our plateaus, the numbers that chronicle our age don’t matter.

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