Firmness of purpose is one of the most necessary sinews of character, and one of the best instruments of success. Without it genius wastes its efforts in a maze of inconsistencies.
~ Philip Dormer Chesterfield
I’m sitting on a bowed and weather-beaten wooden bench watching the crowds go by. Across the quad walks a former classmate, her fair, shoulder-length hair pulled back in a ponytail that bobs against her pink backpack. Her stride is determined and swift. She’s going someplace . . .
I see another group pass by. It must be in-class presentation day, for they are dressed for business. No flip-flops, fluorescent pajama bottoms or tank tops. Instead it’s shades-of-brown chinos and skirts. They are rehearsing: comparing notes; detailing segues; pointing at invisible pie charts. The appearance of purpose . . .
Me? I can’t seem to move from this bench and get on with wrapping up this semester. There is much to do, and all will get done. But at times the point seems lost.
I see these kids – for some are not much older than my teenage son – and envy their place in time. Barring some tragic accident or sudden illness, they are closer to the beginning of life than the end. Time stretches before them, a tapestry waiting to be woven. I imagine they can see it, what they want it to look like as it progresses, the nuances of texture and shades of color that will be for them a masterpiece worthy of display.
I know they will make mistakes. Circumstances will lead them down unbidden roads. Perhaps they know this, that seldom do our dreams materialize exactly as we imagine. Perhaps they are too young to care. So I wish for them an attitude of purpose leavened with a dash of creativity, for navigating the unexpected takes a stern rudder . . .