But does not the variety of interests you have interfere with your business? My dear sir, I want to assure you that I have heard that query before. But let me tell you : A man tends to business with his mind, do you understand ?—with his mind Now, whatever interests a man and engages his thought, gives him more mind.
And he takes that "more mind" into his busi ness. No objection to that, is there? It seems to me that if you want to solve a little problem or two in the universal mystery, you must unlock its unknown quantity with work. I call work the Golden Key. Work is a mind process, pure and simple.
Take, for instance, that coin on your watch chain. If you learned everything about it, as a lawyer would learn about a case, you would probably proceed to make coins and their his tory a hobby.
You would be astonished at two things : the amount of knowledge you would get of government, history, finance, and so on; and next, the increase of mental power that would result.
Give the mind a little excursion to the right or left of your business, and it lubricates all the machinery.
Yes, sir, the Golden Key to the mystery is work, and mind work at that. Even physical labor can be guided and arranged and worked out first in the mind. A laborer who labors with his body alone, without thought, is gen erally the poorest kind of a man you can hire. I know, for we have them in our business.
You are an apostle of culture, I take it? Certainly, and I have what I believe to be a sane philosophy about culture. It is this: The secret of culture lies in cultivation.
The secret of cultivation lies in labor.
The secret of labor lies in the desire for self-expression.
Self-expression is pressing out the latent forces of one's self, just as education is leading out the latent power in one's self.
Hence education is not pounding facts into the mind. It is getting the storage battery replete with power, and then learning how best to use and direct it.
Up to the very moment when the spirit re turns whence it came, a man's never-ceasing duty is to let himself out. Whatever the main stream of his labor is, he should so master his environment that the great water-sheds of life about him (the present) and behind him (the past) will send into the main stream as many contributory rivulets as possible.
We will call the stream his business; the contributory rivulets, his culture. Gradually their waters will mingle so perfectly that they are indistinguishable. Then the man of busi ness is cultured. He can talk to you to any length and not reveal the nature of his calling.
You are right, I said, but when is a man to get time for all this? The answer is this : get it out of the waste basket; out of the odds and ends of time that are thrown away every day. There is no man living who cannot devote to cultural ends one ninety-sixth of his time in twenty-four hours; just a trifle more than one per cent.
One ninety-sixth of twenty-four hours is fifteen minutes, to be had either uninterrupted ly, or in three sections of five minutes But what can a man do in so little time? Few men realize that when they deposit money for interest earning, they must also de posit time. What time can do for a five cent piece deposited daily for fifty years is amazing. It gives a new point of view to the power of time.
Now, fifteen minutes a day amounts ap proximately to ninety-two hours in one year. If you will pick up any volume of good litera ture and read its pages deliberately, pronounc ing every word, and giving thought to the au thor's meaning, you will find that you can read in fifteen minutes about three thousand words.
This amount of reading performed daily for one year gives an aggregate of over one million words, or five thousand pages, averaging two hundred words per page ; or, twenty-five vol umes of two hundred pages each. In ten years, this amounts to two hundred and fifty volumes.
Now, this use of fifteen minutes per day as applied to books, will work with the same accumulative interest when applied to anything else.
But let us, for the sake of true culture, the deep and lasting kind, assume that one-third of our fifteen minutes must be devoted, by and large, to reading the hard places a second and a third time, to looking up words we do not fully understand. Even then, in a twelve month, a man can read intensively seventeen volumes of two hundred pages each, or one hundred and seventy volumes in ten years.
The secret lies, however, not in the general desire to do this, but in doing it, and in doing it with regularity. In time, interest begins to accumulate in the form of scholarship, this swells the principal, and you move on more rapidly. The very culture that comes from your effort to liberate yourself through the labor required by education, gives you an in tellectual momentum that permits more in the future than seems possible at the beginning.
As an intellectual retreat for old age, these daily portions of an hour will erect for a man a mansion which could not be built with all the gold and silver of the realm.