SECURITY FOR OLD AGE Old? Who is old? You speak for yourself. I am ninety; full of youth and hope.
It has been pointed out that time is an in dispensable factor in the process of money ac cumulation. Time permits money to increase, if it be left to work and to earn continuously. What is true of money and time, is likewise true of the effort that is stimulated by ambi tion. Increase of all kinds results from a con tinuation of the force natural in the thing. The little tree to become a larger tree must be left undisturbed to keep up its ceaseless round of activity in the quickening earth and air. Disturb it in either relationship, and the little tree will never increase, but disappear.
Ambition is like the little tree; the round of activity natural to it must never cease. Nor may it be said that it is ever full-grown. Where once a single stem and root branch made their way into air and earth, there is now a mass of growth advancing along scores of lines. We may no longer perceive it, but so long as the inherent force is at work, growth is going on.
The little tree must have time to become the big tree. So the incipient ambition must have time that its forces may establish their lines of action. Many writers have sung the praises of time, have urged the good use of it. But before one can use time to the best advantage, he must be inspired of something to pursue; he must have an ambition. It may be a simple ambition, or a lofty one, but it must be in him in some degree before he can make the hours of life render to him their tribute in some kind of increase.
Ambition being a person's fixed purpose to accomplish something and to be something, develops with the days and years as they come. There can be no day in the future of a true ambition when a man may say : "all is accomplished and I now stop." Ambition abides in the very life-blood of a man. When the force that impels it ceases, nothing but death can follow.
To the one intent on building a fortune, am bition will provide the way to travel. It is, at once, the direction and the inspiration. Ambition takes and retains the foremost place, and fortune-building follows after, as the re sult. The mottoes of Ambition are two I. A Way to go.
II. Something to be accomplished.
The virtue that resides in the "Way to go" does not consist in reaching places, but in en largement through experiences that come to us as we proceed.
The "Something to be accomplished" is not to gain material things alone, but to become greater of mind and soul.
The incessant activity of the great writers and great artists is the expression of desire to BE more by doing more. All of them have worked after a single rule : Perceive clearly the thing to be done, then do it in the best possible way.
Some prominent men have apparently based their entire ambition on securing great wealth, casting all other considerations aside in order to become the possessors of more and more money. But it will often be found, among men of this kind, that ambition centers not in money itself, but in the activity that creates it. Money is, with many of them, literally a by product. Such men are not fairly to be judged
by the amount of money they possess, but by two other factors : i. The nature of the activity that pro duces it.
2. Their use of money as it continues to accumulate.
Many wealthy men live lives of frugality ; they are simple in their tastes and unostenta tious in manner. It will always be found to be true with them that the essential interests in life are found in doing rather than in getting.
There are, likewise, many men of ambition no less pronounced than these, whose entire round of activity scarcely touches money at any point. It is a negligible quantity even as a by-product. Something, however, impels them that is, in itself, worth doing.
It is in pursuing an activity worth doing that Ambition finds its highest expression. It depends upon the object pursued whether a man shall at the same time become wealthy. But, fortunately, wealth is a term that men interpret variously. What one man is willing to spend for a single picture, would be to an other sufficient to give him life-long liberty to pursue scientific investigations for the good of all mankind. When Bernard Palissy was searching for the secret of the Italian glaze on pottery, he could not afford the time to earn money. Time itself was so valuable to him that he could not spend it for money. Yet, poverty-stricken as he was for years, the name of Palissy looms big in the history of achieve ment, to-day.
When Samuel Johnson in the days of hunger, wrote his great poem entitled Lott DON, he wrote with all the force of genius within him, and received ten pounds for his work. He never for a moment thought that what he spoke out of the depths of his misery would survive for a century, and after.
Ambition, then, does not always imply what we call financial success. If a man wants money, particularly if he wants much money, his ambition must include it, either directly or indirectly. The decision in this matter must rest in the man. Every ambition, whatsoever its name, must be justified in results. If one of the results is great material wealth, the use of that wealth must, in turn, be justified.
Recurring again to the little tree : it be comes a great tree only by fulfilling its natural impulse, as it can let that impulse work in its environment. The ambitious man may, unlike the tree, use his power of initiative to surround himself by conditions and environ ment that become more and more favorable to his development. This liberty to select and create carries with it the necessity to answer to the moral law which makes a man respon sible for his acts in stewardship. By what process of thought and act did the helpless in fant of sixty years ago become the powerful magnate of to-day? In that time, countless thoughts, intentions, and designs played to produce the result. The man of sixty is the lawful parent of them all. Is he proud of them? Then serenity will be his to the end. Does he fear some of them? Then he has hung a millstone about his neck that will grow heavier as he carries it.