The Field Of Operation
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
Idleness is the bane of human life. It is the most potent cause of failure. The idle man not only does not achieve success, but he is a prey to the ills of the body and the cankering cares of the mind. His life becomes insupportable ; he drones out the weary hours and drags after him the weight of discontented days, until the hoary and unhappy years close round him and the winter of age comes on. Indeed, men cannot live in utter. indolence; they are obliged at last to invent tasks for themselves ; they turn their pleasures into labor and their pastimes into arduous and exhausting toil. Who has not seen men so devoted to sport and games as to spend all their time in the field or consume their whole stock of energy in play, making toil of diversion and work of recreation? Employment is the natural condition, the open sesame to health, happiness and success. The child is never idle except in sleep. Men are never so, until false views of life or the relentless chains of habit have made them indolent. If a man follow the promptings of his inherent energies, he will be a laborious active man ; without employment, he goes back to the condition of the beast and cannot be happy. The consciousness of high abilities is ever with him. The oppressive sense of restrained energies haunts him day and night through the gliding years, and his heart sings dolefully, it might have been! it might have been ! until his mind is goaded to the verge of despair. Oh, it is a mistake W suppose that a man in idleness can be at peace with himself!
you would have a happy man, give him work to do; if you would fill his mind with horrors and his life with dark unrest, let him try to live in this eager, active world with no absorbing employment. The mind of the lazy man is turned inward upon itself; the restless energies with which he is endowed consume themselves at fever-heat and the man, from pure unrest, is almost sure to plunge into vice, which makes "his gloom the deeper and his misfortunes more. With great truth, Colton has somewhere remarked that ennui has made more gamblers than avarice, more drunkards than appetite and more suicides than despair.
It is passing strange how full the world is of loafers, men "down at the heel," with sorrowful faces and still more sorrowful hearts, fighting hopelessly with a hard fate and always worsted in the conflict. They do not work and do not seem to care that fine opportunities and high privileges are lost to them. They sometimes complain of circumstance and in poverty and misanthropy they go down to their death with nothing accomplished, nothing done. How can men of fine natural abilities be content to let them rust out? How can one with the powers of a man in him be satisfied and not put those powers to a useful occupation? How can a man with the brilliant opportunities of life before him let them go to waste and ruin? How can one who is fit to be a king endure the thought of being only a loafer, to kill time and spend the resources of a life in profligate waste ? It has been often said that in America the gates to all avenues of success are wide open ! that a man may rise to almost any height if he have brains and a will to do it. And doubtless it is easier to rise out of penury and mediocrity in this land than in any other. In this favored place men can have pretty nearly what they will pay the price for in integrity and labor. It is, perhaps, less difficult to succeed here than in any country beneath the sun. And yet how many failures we have among us! Society seems infested from centre- to circumference with lazy, useless people, who add nothing to the common good and whose lives are a burden to themselves and all the world besides. In this world there is no proper place for an indolent man, except in the graveyard.