Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.
The mind never need stop growing. Indeed, one of the few experiences which never pall is the experience of watching one's own mind and how it produces new interests, responds to new stimuli, and develops new thoughts, apparently without effort and almost independently of one's own conscious control.
Someone receives a promotion, gets an important assignment, makes a major discovery, or moves into the president's office. He's lucky, an envious person remarks. He gets the breaks; they're always in his favor. In reality, luck or the breaks of life had little or nothing to do with it. So-called luck usually is found at the exact point where preparation meets opportunity. For a time, an individual may get ahead by pull, but eventually someone with push will displace him. Success is not due to a fortuitous concourse of stars at our birth, but to a steady trail of sparks from the grindstone of hard work each day.
Multitudes of people, drifting aimlessly to and fro without a set purpose, deny themselves such fulfillment of their capacities, and the satisfying happiness which attends it. They are not wicked, they are only shallow. They are not mean or vicious; they simply are empty -- shake them and they would rattle like gourds. They lack range, depth, and conviction. Without purpose their lives ultimately wander into the morass of dissatisfaction. As we harness our abilities to a steady purpose and undertake the long pull toward its accomplishment, rich compensations reward us. A sense of purpose simplifies life and therefore concentrates our abilities; and concentration adds power.
It comes as no surprise to find [Norman] Mailer embracing [in the book ] a form of Manicheanism, pitting the forces of light and darkness against each other in a permanent stand-off, with humanity as the battlefield. (When asked if Jesus is part of this battle, he responds rather loftily that he thinks it is a distinct possibility.) But it is at points like this that he talks as if all the late-night undergraduate talk sessions on the question of theism had become rolled into one. 'How can we not face up to the fact that if God is All-Powerful, He cannot be All-Good. Or She cannot be All-Good.'Mailer says that questions such as this have bedevilled 'theologians', whereas it would be more accurate to say that such questions, posed by philosophers, have attempted to put theologians out of business. A long exchange on the probability of reincarnation (known to Mailer sometimes as karmic reassignment) manages to fall slightly below the level of those undergraduate talk sessions. The Manichean stand-off leads Mailer, in closing, to speculate on what God might desire politically and to say: 'In different times, the heavens may have been partial to monarchy, to communism, and certainly the Lord was interested in democracy, in capitalism. (As was the Devil!)'I think it was at this point that I decided I would rather remember Mailer as the author of and .
You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of color in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play. I tell you Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.