( Originally Published 1916 )
ONE of the most astounding things in nature is the waste of sun-force. Frank W. Very, in an article in the Popular Science Monthly, calls attention to this, saying:
"The earth is a mere point in space, and receives no more than one 2,200,000,000th of the radiant energy the sun is outpouring so lavishly." Yet from this almost infinitesimal fraction of the sun's total radiation practically all known forces on earth are due.
The power of wind and wave and tide, of fire and its son, steam, of plant and animal life, of glacial movement, of rain and snow, even of all growth in trees and herbs and all forms of animal energy, come from this crumb of solar potency caught by the whirling world.
And this apparent waste and extravagance characterizes all nature, and men and their spiritual dynamics.
It is a law of mind. You cannot learn one fact alone. Your study, your experience, must embrace a myriad of facts; only so will the one remain with you.
From months and years of "practice" the pianist culls at last the flower of perfection.
You read a book of 400 pages, and are lucky if one paragraph sticks.
To make forty sales the department store must induce 400 customers to come and look.
The travelling salesman interviews twenty merchants to get three or four who will place orders with him.
This is the law of success : Keep trying; if you want one man to give you employment or buy your wares you must apply to many men.
Out from every soul pours the power of personal influence. All but a minute fraction of it seems wasted, as in the case of the sun. You must be kind a thousand times to be effectually kind once. You must forgive seventy times seven to find the one instance where forgiveness counts. A hundred times must you be courageous if you hope to be brave the one time when it will be worth while.
The teacher knows how in the schoolroom she must sow beside all waters to make a few seeds grow.
An editor writes one appeal in his daily newspaper. A hundred thousand copies are bought. Perhaps 5,000 persons glance at his article. Five hundred read it through. One hundred are interested. Ten perhaps are persuaded.
Of the countless volumes of philosophy, how rare are those that reach and fecundate the receptive mind !
What becomes of all the wasted energy of suns, souls, books and all powers, physical and spiritual? We do not know. We believe that somehow Nature, in her nicely balanced adjustments, throws nothing away, and transforms into other kinds of energy all superfluous vigor.
But the observer may learn, if he be wise, not to be discouraged at the apparent fruitlessness of his effort, but to go on, as the sun for many millions of years has gone on, putting forth his full vitality, that some fragment be used.