Work hard in silence; let your success be your noise.
The battle between good and evil is a legitimate theme for a Fantasy (or for any work of fiction, for that matter), but in real life that battle is fought chiefly in the individual human heart. Too many contemporary Fantasies take the easy way out by externalizing the struggle, so the heroic protagonists need only smite the evil minions of the dark power to win the day. And you can tell the evil minions, because they’re inevitably ugly and they all wear black. I wanted to stand much of that on its head. In real life, the hardest aspect of the battle between good and evil is determining which is which.
Congratulations. You’re alive. There’s an unbroken thread that stretches across more than three billion years that connects us to the first life that ever touched this world.
Think of how tough, resourceful and lucky all of our countless ancestors must have been to survive long enough to pass on the message of life to the next and the next and the next generation, hundreds of millions of times before it came to us. There were so many rivers to cross, so many hazards along the way. Predators, starvation, disease, miscalculation, long winters, drought, flood and violence. Not to mention the occasional upheavals that erupted from within our planet and the apocalyptic bolts that come from the blue.
No matter where we hail from or who our parents were, we are descended from the hearty survivors of unimaginable catastrophes. Each of us is a runner in the longest and most dangerous relay race there ever was, and at this moment, we hold the baton in our hands.
You must aim high, not in what you are going to do at some future date, but in what you are going to make yourself do to-day. Otherwise, working is just a waste of time.
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacriﬁce, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasise in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magniﬁcently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an inﬁnite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in deﬁance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory.
The wise does at once what the fool does at last.
I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.
To be wholly devoted to some intellectual exercise is to have succeeded in life.
Wherever you are – be all there.
The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
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