“Passionately Believe in the Perfectibility of Man”

I absolutely love to learn.

Among the things on my nightstand is a little book called The Intellectual Devotional, which is filled with daily tidbits from one of seven fields of study: history, literature, visual arts, science, music, philosophy and religion. The tagline promises it will “revive your mind” and “complete your education” while allowing you to “roam confidently in the cultured class.”

Nuggets of knowledge. Totally my kind of book.

Tuesday’s note discussed legendary American author John Steinbeck, who wrote Of Mice and Men and several other books I pretended to read during high school. Most of his work centered around life of the poverty-stricken in the agricultural areas of his native California and, in 1962, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In his acceptance speech, he asserted

who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.”

What powerful words. Oh, that each of us might have this faith in ourselves! Striving to grow would be much easier with such a wind in our sails. Our accomplishments would astound even our own imaginations.

Fervor bridges the gap between “might have been” and “is”.

When you bring unbridled energy to anything you do, the results are instantly improved. The ferocity of your enthusiasm breeds the commitment necessary to plow forward in the face of obstacles. This fire burns in the heart of every truly successful person, whether they end up on Forbes’ Rich List or stockpile spiritual wealth.

Without burning desire, you lope languidly from task to task.

You may be lucky enough to aimlessly flit along chasing only what catches your eye. It’s more likely that, instead of slipping from one mild fascination to another, you’ll get boxed into a maze and work furiously to find a moldy hunk of cheese. Locked inside, with an unknown–or nonexistent–exit, you are stuck searching for the same low-grade sustenance just to survive.

This is no way to live.

“Life is on the wire,” Karl Wallenda said. Pushing yourself to the very edges of your being, demanding maximum effort and accepting only the peak of your talents is what puts you in the category of the most satisfied souls. The result is predictable. Every time, without fail:

At the end of your days, tireless pursuit–across all your peaks and valleys–is what makes you perfect.

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