…but if a man is to learn, first he must live. Louis L’Amour, The Walking Drum
Louis L’Amour is no stranger to regular readers of The Thought for the Day. Almost interesting is the fact we were introduced to him in middle age. We had, of course, heard of L’Amour and seen his books everywhere and had dismissed him as a hack drugstore novelist, which was our loss because L’Amour turned into one of our favorite writers. While the critic who said L’Amour would have benefited from a freshman composition course probably had a point, for our money no one except Gore Vidal provides the insights into our human experience that L’Amour does, which is what you pay us writers for.
One of the first, and most beneficial, things we must learn is ourselves. In order to truly make our time on this planet serve us, we must know ourselves inside and out. There is no substitute. We must know our strengths and our weakness, so we can use both to advantage. Knowing our strengths allows us to utilize them at need while knowing our weaknesses allows us to avoid the distraction and loss they cause.
There are other things to learn, too. We must learn what we should know and what we want to know and then go and learn those things. Knowledge is funny, though, because we also must realize wisdom only comes when we realize the depths of what we don’t know.
We must learn what we are good at and what we are not good at, to do things that will produce a dividend and not do the things which merely spin our wheels. We must be willing to learn the lessons life has to teach us, even when we don’t particularly like the lesson.
…first he must live.
To do all of these things we must go out and live. We must follow the roads that call because to ignore them is dangerous. We must try and we must fail because only by failing will we put ourselves in a position to achieve and appreciate success.
Most of all, we must live from the inside out instead of the outside in. We must learn to react to our heart and our instincts, instead of merely reacting to outside influences. Only then will we live a life that is useful to ourselves and others. Our hearts will tell us where to go. Our instincts will tell us how to get there.
The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.