PRECAUTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING





Now that I have succeeded (if succeeded I have) in persuading you to

admit to yourself that you are constantly haunted by a suppressed

dissatisfaction with your own arrangement of your daily life; and

that the primal cause of that inconvenient dissatisfaction is the

feeling that you are every day leaving undone something which you

would like to do, and which, indeed, you are always hoping to do

when you have "more time"; and now that I have drawn your attention

to the glaring, dazzling truth that you never will have "more time,"

since you already have all the time there is--you expect me to let

you into some wonderful secret by which you may at any rate approach

the ideal of a perfect arrangement of the day, and by which,

therefore, that haunting, unpleasant, daily disappointment of things

left undone will be got rid of!



I have found no such wonderful secret. Nor do I expect to find it,

nor do I expect that anyone else will ever find it. It is

undiscovered. When you first began to gather my drift, perhaps

there was a resurrection of hope in your breast. Perhaps you said

to yourself, "This man will show me an easy, unfatiguing way of

doing what I have so long in vain wished to do." Alas, no! The

fact is that there is no easy way, no royal road. The path to Mecca

is extremely hard and stony, and the worst of it is that you never

quite get there after all.



The most important preliminary to the task of arranging one's life

so that one may live fully and comfortably within one's daily budget

of twenty-four hours is the calm realisation of the extreme

difficulty of the task, of the sacrifices and the endless effort

which it demands. I cannot too strongly insist on this.



If you imagine that you will be able to achieve your ideal by

ingeniously planning out a time-table with a pen on a piece of

paper, you had better give up hope at once. If you are not prepared

for discouragements and disillusions; if you will not be content

with a small result for a big effort, then do not begin. Lie down

again and resume the uneasy doze which you call your existence.



It is very sad, is it not, very depressing and sombre? And yet I

think it is rather fine, too, this necessity for the tense bracing

of the will before anything worth doing can be done. I rather like

it myself. I feel it to be the chief thing that differentiates me

from the cat by the fire.



"Well," you say, "assume that I am braced for the battle. Assume

that I have carefully weighed and comprehended your ponderous

remarks; how do I begin?" Dear sir, you simply begin. There is no

magic method of beginning. If a man standing on the edge of a

swimming-bath and wanting to jump into the cold water should ask

you, "How do I begin to jump?" you would merely reply, "Just jump.

Take hold of your nerves, and jump."



As I have previously said, the chief beauty about the constant

supply of time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next

year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as

perfect, as unspoilt, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a

single moment in all your career. Which fact is very gratifying and

reassuring. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.

Therefore no object is served in waiting till next week, or even

until to-morrow. You may fancy that the water will be warmer next

week. It won't. It will be colder.



But before you begin, let me murmur a few words of warning in your

private ear.



Let me principally warn you against your own ardour. Ardour in

well-doing is a misleading and a treacherous thing. It cries out

loudly for employment; you can't satisfy it at first; it wants more

and more; it is eager to move mountains and divert the course of

rivers. It isn't content till it perspires. And then, too often,

when it feels the perspiration on its brow, it wearies all of a

sudden and dies, without even putting itself to the trouble of

saying, "I've had enough of this."



Beware of undertaking too much at the start. Be content with quite

a little. Allow for accidents. Allow for human nature, especially

your own.



A failure or so, in itself, would not matter, if it did not incur a

loss of self-esteem and of self-confidence. But just as nothing

succeeds like success, so nothing fails like failure. Most people

who are ruined are ruined by attempting too much. Therefore, in

setting out on the immense enterprise of living fully and

comfortably within the narrow limits of twenty-four hours a day, let

us avoid at any cost the risk of an early failure. I will not agree

that, in this business at any rate, a glorious failure is better

than a petty success. I am all for the petty success. A glorious

failure leads to nothing; a petty success may lead to a success that

is not petty.



So let us begin to examine the budget of the day's time. You say

your day is already full to overflowing. How? You actually spend

in earning your livelihood--how much? Seven hours, on the average?

And in actual sleep, seven? I will add two hours, and be generous.

And I will defy you to account to me on the spur of the moment for

the other eight hours.





PRAYERFUL REMEMBRANCE. PREFACE facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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