The Call of Destiny

success

I’ve always wondered about characters who readily take the call to adventure.  Why?  Because frankly, if you think you’re getting a call to destiny, you should slam the phone down.

The problem is that I come from a culture that absolutely believes in “destiny” and “fate.”  You’re born to be great, or born to be of no account, and not everything you do, not everything you try can avail you.

I think those who are told they have a great destiny — by reason of family, brains, or some early quality — are far more likely to be hurt by it.  Those of us of whom not that much was expected — we were expected to do well, but we had no great destiny — sometimes achieve something nonetheless.  But the ones who are told they’ll set the world on its ear have trouble with giving up early (and often.)

Then there is the whole matter of vocations.  I don’t want to believe in vocations.  I don’t want to believe you’re born to do something.  What it implies about the state of the world, how its run, and the state of free will itself scares me just a little.

And yet, I was born to write, and all the times I tried to walk away from it were attempts at self harm.  I hated myself because I couldn’t be perfect at it, and what’s the good of a vocation if you have to work to be good at it.

And yet it is.  It is what it is.  Maybe I’m just broken in the peculiar way that makes a writer.

I don’t know what to say about this, except that it ties in with my post at Mad Genius Club.

Contrary to fiction and legends, just because you fail, it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in the end.  Just because you struggle, it doesn’t mean it’s not what you’re supposed to do, and just because you hit bottom, doesn’t mean you can’t rise.

And yes, I’m saying this to myself as well as to you guys.

In 2003 when I hit rock bottom on my career I was saved by that quote I put in the image above.  It was found, of all places, at a Jane Austen fan group.  And it gave me the impetus to work and get back in the game.

Do you have a great destiny?  I have no idea.  I’m not sure I believe in destiny.

Do you have a vocation?  Well, either you do or you don’t, but if you keep coming to the same thing and trying to make it work, either it’s your vocation or you’re nuts.  I’m okay with being nuts.  Quite likely, really.

You buy everything in this world, and the most important things aren’t bought with money.  They’re bought with persistence, courage, work, and sometimes something else, something that just refuses to give up.

There is a passage in Don Camillo that goes something like “Smilzo made a final effort, spit out a piece of his lung, but he did make the goal.”

Sometimes that’s what it feels like.  You’re shedding bits of yourself and hurting like hell, but you push through, and you can even get there.

Oh maybe not where you intended to, but to a place you can live with.

Everyone is going to meet contretemps, set backs and, in my case, the constant sabotage of my goals by my own body.  But you keep going — not in the Hillary “do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result” way — but in a sane, reevaluate, recast, reaim and try again way.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  Or at least managing to do well, eventually.

And sometimes hitting the bottom is just the preparation to rise.

125 responses to “The Call of Destiny

  1. I absolutely have a vocation—it’s art. I’m lucky in that I can subsume that need to create in any number of things that are actually job or family related—the former with photo image prep, and the latter with not just crafts and decorating, but some forms of cooking. That’s lucky, because otherwise I would be really hurting for time to do that.

    Note that this isn’t my *job* (except in the aforementioned paid production), but the thing I have to be able to do to feel right with the world. It’s also not “destiny” in that I can express this vocation in multiple ways, according to my choice.

    And hey, if you’re sinking in water, hitting the bottom means you’ve got a great launching point!

  2. A call to adventure? A call to destiny? not bow that I have call screening. Straight to voicemail with those kinds of calls. I have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, and uncomfortable things.

    • On the other hand….

      “What did I want? I wanted a Roc’s egg. I wanted a harem loaded with lovely odalisques less than the dust beneath my chariot wheels, the rust that never stained my sword. I wanted raw red gold in nuggets the size of your fist, and feed that lousy claim jumper to the huskies! I wanted to get up feeling brisk and go out and break some lances, then pick a likely wench for my droit du seigneur – I wanted to stand up to the Baron and dare him to touch my wench! I wanted to hear the purple water chuckling against the skin of the Nancy Lee in the cool of the morning watch and not another sound, nor any movement save the slow tilting of the wings of the albatross that had been pacing us the last thousand miles. I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, “The game’s afoot!” I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and Lost Dauphin. I wanted Prester John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and to eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be the way they had promised me it was going to be, instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is. I had had one chance – for ten minutes yesterday afternoon. Helen of Troy, whatever your true name may be – and I had known it and I had let it slip away. Maybe one chance is all you ever get.”

    • Adventure is someone else having a miserable time, somewere else, far away

      • Yup. I heard it a bit differently, but with substantially the same meaning:

        An adventure is something horrible that happens to someone else, far away.

      • For most people. But there are a few who go looking. And some of them, like T. E. Lawrence, have a miserable time doing anything else. Lionel Dunsterville (Stalky) clearly had an avocation for adventure, and got it in spades.

        But these people don’t tend to make good fiction. The reality is too outrageous.

        I prefer the version that goes ‘Adventure is someone else having a hell of a time, somewhere else, far away’, because a few are having a hell of a GOOD time, although you or I would be miserable.

        • This brings to mind the game played by America’s various “Special Forces” branches, going up the ranks (down the depths) of what each branch deems “good training.”

        • Ooooh yeah. There’s that Adrian Carton de Wiart fellow, who wrote Happy Odyssey

          There are people in reality that if you plunk ’em into fiction, people will bitch at you for making a Mary Sue/Marty Stu.

          • Things have happened in reality that no selfconsious author would have the gall to ask his (her) readers to believe.

            One of the very best ‘Hugo Gernsback’ style How-we-built-the-space-station-and-conquered-Mars stories I ever read was THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS by David McCullough. It concerns the building of the Panama Canal, and that tale is FULL of the kind of coincidence I mean.

            Example: de Lesseps – who had overseen the Suez Canal project, wamted to be lionized like that again, and decided to build a canal at Panama. He envisioned a sea level work, and convened a meeting of international engineers to put their stamp of approval on his ideas (he was not an engineer, BTW). A young Frenchman stood up in the meeting and said, in effect, “The rains and the mud will make your plans impossible. You will need to make a lake here, build such and such locks here,….” and basically outlined what the Americans eventually did. He was ignored, and his presentation stuffed in a closet and forgotten until McCullough found it doing research.

            • I once read The Los Alamos Primer and I recall at least twice in the text were notes that “This was off by a factor of 2” and a few pages later, something related was also off by a factor of 2… the other way. The odd errors that cancel and things work out, even though some of the steps getting there are wrong.

              • I was just starting to think of another mythological character, your Minotaurus. Anti-Murphy. I think he’s the clean up person who keeps Murphy from destroying the world. Thus, every once in a while, an error can be partially corrected by another error. Like RAH’s Good Luck Fairy from Glory Road, Anti-Murphy works part time, and is sick a lot…

                (Started to think of A-M when I realized it was time when I could take another Vicodin, but the eye is actually feeling better.)

          • richardmcenroe

            See: Travis Taylor.

        • Bill Maudlin noted there were soldiers who enjoyed it. They tended to have civilian occupations like swamp hunter or Mafia bodyguard.

          People who aren’t very sensitive may need large jolts of adrenaline to feel intensely.

      • I wanted adventure, so I joined the Navy.

        My uncle forgot to tell me that Navy stands for “Never again volunteer yourself…”

        😛

      • Adventures? Nasty bit of business, that. Smelly, painful, damp, hot, dirty, and either no time to appreciate such feelings or all too much in between those sharp bursts of awfulness. Its breathing out that last little bit of air and hoping the next passage will open up a bit and the tons upon tons of rock above you won’t decide this is the right time to shift. Or the blinky little red light that reminds you that you have less than 1/10th capacity on fuel and no parachutes, but at least the wing isn’t on fire. Anymore. At least for now.

        It might be that time you stumble upon two thieves armed with crowbars, startling them. Most folk don’t startle well, thieves included. Or it could be scrambling out of a riot, with all the grubby bits of humanity on lurid display, trying to keep your people together and safe.

        Adventures are what we call the situations that would otherwise be tragedies, if not for a little bit of grace. It may be a poor word to describe what happens so randomly in a nigh completely chaotic situation, with even the best of intentions and well-trained responses. The latter in my experience can bring some measure of control, but that can be akin to having a single finger on the steering wheel while you are ripping down the mountain with a stripped gearbox and fading brakes.

        Adventure seeking might be a poorly disguised death wish or an insufficient appreciation for the finer features of boredom and placidity. Or because the risk is deemed necessary. As much as one hopes it never will be, of course. No, we don’t want any adventures happening, thank you. A nice cup of tea and a brisk walk followed by a good book and a warm bed are qiute enough for me. *chuckle*

        • “Adventure? Excitement? A Jedi craves not these things.” – Yoda, before Lucas decided that Jedi weren’t even allowed to have feelings.

          • “A Jedi craves not these things.” But Yoda left out the other part, “Because these things crave the Jedi. If a Jedi you become, a few quiet moments amidst the storm will you wish for.”

      • The test of an adventure is that when you’re in the middle of it, you say to yourself, “Oh, now I’ve got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.” And the sign that something’s wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.
        — Thornton Wilder

        • Pilots have reduced this to the saying, “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground!”

        • It’s been my (thankfully limited) experience that in the middle of an ‘adventure’ there’s too much ‘OMG We’re going to die! What can I do next to keep that from happening?’ to say to myself, “I wish I were sitting quietly at home.” It’s afterward, when you are quietly sitting at home, that you can say, “Well, that was interesting.”

          My few dicey situations have shown me that I can handle them if they come my way, but I don’t feel the need to seek out opportunities to demonstrate that again. Especially since it’s possible that eventually you’ll run into a situation that will put you down for the count, or at least break you – see battle fatigue. Testing to destruction need not apply in my case, thank you very much.

  3. I’m sure I have a destiny, but it’s locked inside an escape-proof box. Good thing I’ve got lots and lots of patience. With lots and lots of experience in developing same.

  4. Low enough that catfish found you with their barbels?
    For whatever reason that phrase was what came to mind, but I got a twisted mind

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    “A man born to be hung won’t drown at sea”. 😉

    • Unless he is hung from the ankles off the stern of a ship with his head under the wake

      • “unless Burnhem Wood comes to Dunsedane”
        “MacBeth cannot be killed by man born of woman.”

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          “You’ll live to give Mass in Jerusalem” (The man was said to have died after giving Mass in a church called Jerusalem.)

    • I remember a story in which a man went to Merlin three times, asking how he would die, and got three answers: falling, drowning, and hanging.

      And one day he fell into a lake with the horse’s reins tangled about his neck, and when they pull him out, he was dead.

  6. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I’ve always wondered about characters who readily take the call to adventure. Why? Because frankly, if you think you’re getting a call to destiny, you should slam the phone down.

    Thought about a character who was particularly nuts this way, and concluded that I probably should adjust the rest of the cast to be more strongly flavored with the type of crazy that is enthusiastic about fitting in to circumstances that will not be realized.

  7. A man from Wilmington, NC put it this way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA7G7AV-LT8.

  8. The idea of “vocation” as Martin Luther uses it is a useful one, imho. What you are doing as your work – if not outright defying God – is what you are called to, in that time and place. Therefore, you should do it as if you were doing it for God. And, therefore, it has dignity and purpose, no matter how lowly.
    And, it doesn’t mean you will succeed in the worldly use of that term. But, it also means failing – if it wasn’t because you quit or just didn’t do the work – isn’t the end of the world. So, no wailing and gnashing of teeth necessary. Pray for strength and wisdom. And get back to it. Keep on keepin’ on.

  9. That quote is just what I needed to hear after some recent disappointments. Even if I don’t have a vocation, I can at least make it look like I do.

  10. That’s one of the things I like about Mel Gibson’s the Patriot. He had seen war and wanted nothing to do with it again, despite the patriotic speeches of his damn fool neighbors. It was his son who answered the call to adventure. And it turned out war was interested in him.

  11. On trying and trying again: The number one correlation with being the starter of a successful startup is the number of failures starting a startup – so basically, it all comes down to times at bat.

    As long as one learns from failures, they position one for success.

    • How many times did Trump fail at a business venture? How many times did he make a start at the Presidential race before he really went after it? Sometimes those failures are necessary for the eventual success.
      Provided you learn from them.

      Egads! But I’m a slow learner.

  12. I think most people hang up on the call to adventure, for the same reason they close the door on opportunity. Looks too much like work.

  13. Success is getting up one more time than you get knocked down.

    Cerdited, in various forms, to Oliver Goldsmith.

  14. Also, those who are not allowed to fail,cannot succeed.

  15. I believe in “great destinies”. Sometimes other people’s great destiny is really just small stuff.

    • And, sometimes, what looks like just small stuff (like having a child) can be a great destiny, indeed.
      (Parents, NEVER forget that the greatest adventure, and the greatest achievement, in the world is to raise a child to be the best they can be, a productive member of society, with the morals and ideals that you aimed for (more or less).)

  16. Adventures are way more fun later… much later, when you’re telling someone else about them.

  17. Then there is the whole matter of vocations. I don’t want to believe in vocations. I don’t want to believe you’re born to do something. What it implies about the state of the world, how its run, and the state of free will itself scares me just a little.

    Maybe there’s an issue in the definition?

    The meaning of “vocation” that I grew up with– in multiple contexts, even– is more along the lines of “a thing which you can do which fulfills your life.”

    It’s sometimes coupled with a “calling,” especially for religious life, but… it’s more like the idea of soul-mates, which is part of another vocation. ^.^ It’s not that there’s one person which you WILL fall in love with, it’s like there’s another piece of the puzzle out there that will fit with you. Since both you and the vocation are kind of squishy, and so are people in general (yes, even the most hard-ass!) you fit like a hand in a glove, rather than a peg in a hole. That glove might be anything from knit to heavy leather welding glove to chain mail or who knows what, but both glove and hand change.

    • Since both you and the vocation are kind of squishy
      But in different ways. A vocation can often bounce back from being run over by an M1A1 Abrams. You not as often.
      😉

    • This. It appears, at least at the moment, that telling stories is my calling. That can be through how I teach some things in a classroom, how I write history books and articles, or spinning yarns called “fiction.” So there are a lot of possible variations on that vocation.

    • I’m a little taken aback by Sarah’s take on “vocation”, myself. My internalized understanding of the word is not at all close to what hers is, apparently.

      Vocation is what you’re supposed to be doing, in a sense–Your “purpose”. Who decides that which you are supposed to be doing? You, the circumstances in which you find yourself, and whatever you care to ascribe things to, in terms of deity or external motivating factor for the universe. Some of us may find their vocation easily, and ascribe it to God’s will. Others, not so easily, and they might ascribe the foundational root for the whole thing simple random action of the cosmos. Either way, a vocation means duty. Are you good at a thing that needs doing? Then, you must be the one who answers that necessity.

      When the question is asked “Who here will do this hard thing, this difficult thing, this thing of risk…?”, and that thing is in alignment with your skills, your talents, and your abilities, then your duty is clear. And, as well, you’ve likely found your purpose and vocation, hard though it may be to bear.

      You’ve got your vocation right when you’re in tune with the universe, doing righteous things in a cause that you believe in. It may be a lost cause, a “…verloren Hoop…”, but that’s where you’re supposed to be, what you were meant for, and even if it means the end of you, there is a sense of purpose and connection with it all that makes it worth the doing.

      I think most of us Cold War-era veterans who bothered to think about the potentials and consequences felt at least a little of all that, mustering out on an early morning alert in Western Germany, heading out to the local dispersal area before moving up to the General Defense Plan positions and missions. You knew that if “the balloon went up” for realsies, really truly, well… Then, life was going to be short, hard, and probably end badly.

      If you didn’t feel the vocation, the connection, you wouldn’t be there, and if you’d somehow stumbled into that situation, you sure as hell wouldn’t stay there any longer than you had to. You could tell the difference, a lot of the time–The guys whose eyes shifted, when you passed out the live ammo, as opposed to the ones who just gave you that knowing look that the whole enterprise was probably futile, and doomed to failure, but… It still needed doing. And, you had a pretty good idea of who would still be there, at your side when the final questions of duty were asked.

      In my mind, a vocation means that you, what you’re doing, and what needs doing in the service of your fellow man is in tune. There is an alignment, a path, one which may lead to a brick wall and sudden impact, but it’s a rail line you can’t bring yourself to get off of.

      A firefighter may feel it, as they get off the truck at a major fire, one where people are either in danger of dying, or already dead. Even if you know you’re likely going to your own death, when you have a true vocation for it, you’re going to be that guy going in the doorway of that burning building. It’s not heroism, as commonly conceived, but an alignment of self, purpose, and necessity. When you’ve got it, it’s an amazing feeling. When you lose it…? It’s difficult to even begin to describe to one who has never felt it.

      It’s one reason that career military keep re-enlisting, and telling terrible jokes to their family and non-military friends, when asked “Why the hell are you doing this to yourself and yours…?”. To try to answer that question would be an exercise in futility, because to those who have never felt what it is to have a vocation…? There is no common ground, no bridge; just gap.

      Of course, the whole thing is horribly prone to self-delusion, but it’s still a thing you miss when you no longer have it. We do so love our self-delusions, do we not?

  18. Tangent: Over the years I’ve seen a catering company, an event center, a night club, and a pizzeria (not all one establishment!) using the name Destiny or Destiny’s. If they called, perhaps I would answer, to accept food delivery. 😉

  19. If I have a “vocation”, i sure haven’t found it yet. An old friend used to tell me that I would never get anywhere until I figured out how to enjoy something that I didn’t suck so bad at.

    My hobbies; guitar, which I’ve been working on and off at for most of my life, but I’m awful at it. Hey, whatever. I LOVE it. It ain’t gonna pay no bills unless I can figure out how to get people to pay me NOT to play (yes, I’m that bad, but I play for ME and don’t subject others to it). My other hobby is writing. Didn’t win nano this year. 😦 I had such high hopes too, but I put off coming up with a concept till too late and when November rolled in, I just couldn’t get my characters to do anything interesting. Writing became forced, and the surest way to get me to NOT want to do something is to make me feel like I HAVE to do it so even small distractions derailed my progress. Always next year I guess. Till then, I’ll keep practicing and learning more about the craft.

  20. I’m not sure my medical issues qualify as an adventure, except in the “somebody else having an interesting* time. Made it through; nervous as hell before (doctor said those who aren’t tend to be nuts), but with some chemical dutch courage (15 mg Valium; started to doze off waiting for the procedure), it was all right. Hotel has a shuttle, so I’m back.

    They told me it was a Really Good Idea to take a Vicodin right away. It brought the pain from “hurts like hell” to “I think I’ll actually sleep if I try.” About to test the hypothesis.

    Endnote; I read better in right eye without the reading lens in my glasses. Not sure if it’s the bandage contact or real improvement. Will know in a week.

  21. There is, LITERALLY, nothing else I can do. So it’s fortunate that I really like writing fiction. After more than 20 years doing so, I have developed a process which most people would recoil from in horror – but works for me, and now can get me from a list of things which I threw into the current scene when planning and structuring the whole, to a finished scene, in usually less than a week. I like it, I’m happy, and my husband (a non-reader of fiction) doesn’t have to deal with a severely depressed creature feeling sorry for herself. I don’t recommend it to newbies (or anyone else, for that matter), but they wouldn’t be listening to me, anyway.

    Never give up! Never surrender! And eventually the last word gets written, and the novel published.

  22. I think those who are told they have a great destiny — by reason of family, brains, or some early quality — are far more likely to be hurt by it.

    Yes. And that is all I will say about it.

  23. So far as I can tell I don’t have any great destiny or fate. I do have a suspicion that the Good Lord is actively keeping me from serious harm (too many instances of surviving or being unharmed to be statistically probable); which lends itself to wonder just what He has in mind for me. Considering His track record, I’m not sure I’m going to enjoy it.

    • Like so many things, I believe that we recognize them after the fact. Or perhaps we adjust our perceptions to think we were “destined” all along, when at the time we were just trying to put one foot in front of the other and do right as best we could. If that’s the case, then fate is more “what happened” than “what *will* happen” (yes, I went there).

    • Destiny?

      Better to call it a marker. If it hadn’t been for the last of physics bending (in some cases, not at all convincingly) I’d be dead a half-dozen times over.
      I know that debt is going to come due someday. I just don’t know how or when. But I’m pretty sure I won’t survive it.

    • Byzantine_Corporal

      I’m glad you’re still with us. But there’s this little thing called “survivor bias” that makes your “Somebody Up There likes me” inference unsound.

  24. Adventures? Oh yeah, I’ve had quite a few of those in my life. Some were good, some were bad, and I often didn’t know how they were going to turn out until they did. None of them were easy though.

    Vocation? That’s a tough one. I’ve done so many different things in my life, that I know what I’m good at (now, so many years later) but the few things that I thought I had a ‘vocation’ for took a lot of hard work to get to the point where I was actually good at them.

    I’d say that the only thing that I may have a ‘natural’ vocation at is the ability to pick myself up out of the dirt, after I’ve been stomped down into it, and start over again. I’ve been the victim of some fairly nasty stompings in my life and have had some very cruel things done to me. By people with power who were trying to destroy me.

    But I’m still here. Yeah, losing everything sucks. Especially the second time around. But there’s something to be said for coming back from absolute zero on your own.

  25. Sarah, you don’t believe in vacations? That’s terrible! All those tourist destinations and hotel workers will die starving!

    What’s that? “Vocations, not vacations.” Oh, that’s different. Never mind.

  26. The most gifted in a field are usually cursed. When things come to easy, they never know how to strive to achieve and better themselves. Striving, working hard, always learning (and hopefully always teaching others) are important parts of a full life.

    On a side note, from my musical knowledge and experience, the best singers in England, at least in the 1980s, were the BBC singers. But they weren’t the best ensemble. Knowing so much, they didn’t know how to take instruction. The best ensembles were made of second-tier singers who knew how to work together, because they always practiced and always had to.

    • Agreed. Freshman year in college, two of the brightest people I knew (one from high school, another was on my lab team in Physics 106 (base level course for engineering students)) both crashed and burned and flunked out. The other guy on the Physics lab team wasn’t brilliant, but had the sticktoitness needed. His career went quite well…

      • Thomas Edison said this in many variations: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”

        Many a genius has been undone by schools that never challenged, never pushed, never taught how to work hard, with the result that, when push came to shove, the genius fell down and stayed down.

  27. “There is a passage in Don Camillo that goes something like “Smilzo made a final effort, spit out a piece of his lung, but he did make the goal.”
    Sometimes that’s what it feels like.”

    There is a lot of wisdom in The Little World, mostly because of author Guareschi’s experiences. I found his books to be a delightful example of how a totally different cultural environment could still deliver stories that resonated with a bookish teen (maybe small town West Texas isn’tall that different from small town Italy).
    One attraction for me, with lessons I internalized and still draw on:
    “The Christ in the crucifix often has far greater understanding than Don Camillo of the troubles of the people, and has to constantly but gently reprimand the priest for his impatience.” – Wikipedia

  28. I just saw “Destiny Rides Again” on TCM. Ohhhh. Destry. Not Destiny. Destiny done rode over my fingers.

  29. “Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom.”

    I wish I could tell that to half my daughters’ college schoolmates. I told my girls long ago that I liked second semester physics so much I took it twice! My middle daughter related that to a schoolmate, who was aghast. “You know that means he — failed — right?” she said.

    Yes, my daughter told her, she understood. I wonder if more people, particularly young ones, understood that failure is only transitory, we’d lessen the need for therapists.

    • Sounds like me with higher math. Flunked 1st quarter freshman Calculus. Vector Analysis, too. Pick self up, try again. The very best grade I got in any math course was a B in Linear Equations. Graduated from Virginia Tech in 1985 with a whopping 2.5 GPA…which happened to be in the middle of the pack for Aerospace Engineers from that school.

      • Sounds just a tad higher than my grades coming out of Purdue in ’87. I’m thankful for my non-engineering electives! I told my kids that when I accepted my diploma, the dean whispered he’d be happy if I never set foot in Tippecanoe County ever again…

      • Better than equations in Linear-B; that’s really hard to decipher.

    • If they apply the real-world lesson to school, they will not be allowed to continue.

      I think it’s notable that the Navy’s training system lets you fail twice before they even talk about removing you from a program. They just have you do it again.

  30. I do think that there are matches between the person, place, and time. The right person, at the right place, at the right moment can do great things…IF he has prepared for them.

    Patton being one of the very best examples. He considered himself to have a calling to the profession of arms. Never mind the severe dyslexia h suffered from. He trained. Studied. Trained more. Studied still more. Wrote papers. He was over 55 when he was offered command of the Western Task Force in Operation TORCH…much older than anyone else. But it was like unleashing a tiger. Four decades of patient study and loving practice crystallized into the most formidable commander of his time, the terror of his enemies and the envy of his peers.

    But you have to be ready for it. Greatness doesn’t come cheap or easy.

  31. richardmcenroe

    Give me, my God, what you still have;
    give me what no one asks for.
    I do not ask for wealth, nor success,
    nor even health.

    People ask you so often, God, for all that,
    that you cannot have any left.
    Give me, my God, what you still have.
    Give me what people refuse to accept from you.
    I want insecurity and disquietude;
    I want turmoil and brawl.

    And if you should give them to me,
    my God, once and for all,
    let me be sure to have them always,
    for I will not always
    have the courage to ask for them.

    Corporal Zirnheld
    Special Air Service
    1942