Funny how some prevailing principles never become outdated.
In the spring of l871, a young medical student at Montreal General Hospital, later to become one of the most famous physicians of his generation, picked up a book by Thomas Carlyle and read 21 words that changed his life.
“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand,” wrote Carlyle. Forty years later the doctor told a group of Yale students that the secret of his success was to live in “day-tight” compartments.
I’ve never forgotten those words and reread the story often. It is related in a vintage book I picked up at the Starkville Public Library during their first Monday sale. It’s called “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” While it was published almost 60 years ago, the advice is still timely in dealing with challenges Carlyle never could have dream of.
“Just as a great ocean liner can be shut off into watertight compartments, so we should shut the iron doors on the past – the dead yesterdays – and the future – the unborn tomorrows,” is the core message I gleaned from reading and re-reading this little gem.
The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, all carried on your back today will make you stumble every time. The only possible way you can prepare for the future is to concentrate on doing today’s work as best you can.
Another slice of wisdom in my library was written by Robert Louis Stevenson who said “Anyone was carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down.”
And this is all that is really asked of us.