For many years now I’ve kept this passage from George Bernard Shaw in my collection of quotes:
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
Shaw’s birthday is this week: Wednesday, to be exact (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950). Probably best known for his 1913 play Pygmalion, Shaw was the first person to receive both a Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1925) and an Academy Award (in 1938, for Best Adapted Screenplay … of Pygmalion).
That quote from Shaw convicts me, for I do not work as hard or as diligently as I ought. I am too often a “feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances.” I can work, I have worked — my novel, coming out on Shaw’s birthday, is proof at least of that capability — but I need to apply myself more fully to my work.
I hope I can do better, this week and onward, to find that “true joy in life” of believing that my purpose is “a mighty one” and that the work I do is meaningful and important — even if only to myself.
And I hope you find that true joy, as well.by