Some forms of ambition are sure and certain developers and feeders of worry and fretful distress, and should be guarded against with jealous care. We hear a great deal from our physicians of the germs of disease that seize upon us and infect our whole being, but not all the disease germs that ever infected a race are so demoralizing to one's peace and joy as are the germs of such deadly mental diseases as those of envy, malice, covetousness, ambition, and the like.
Ambition, like wine, is a mocker. It is a vain deluder of men. It takes an elevated position and beckons to you to rise, that you may be seen and flattered of men. It does not say: "Gain strength and power, wisdom and virtue, so that men will place you upon the pedestal of their veneration, respect, and love," but it bids you seize the "spotlight" and hold it, and no sooner are you there than it begins to pester you, as with a hundred thousand hornets, flying around and stinging you, with doubts and questionings as to whether your fellows see you in this elevated place, whether they really discern your worth, your beauty, your shining qualities; and, furthermore, it quickens your hearing, and bids you strain to listen to what they say about you, and as you do so, you are pricked, stabbed, wounded by their slighting and jeering remarks, their scornful comments upon your impertinent and impudent arrogance at daring to take such a place, and their open denial of your possession of any of the qualities which would entitle you to so honored a position in the eyes of men.
Then, too, it must be recalled that, when fired with the desires of this mocker, ambition, one is inclined, in his selfish absorption, to be ruthless in his dealings with others. It is so easy to trample upon others when a siren is beckoning you to climb higher, and your ears are eagerly listening to her seductive phrases. With her song in your ears, you cannot hear the wails of anguish of others, upon whose rights and life you trample, the manly rebukes of those you wound, or the stern remonstrances of those who bid you heed your course. Ambition blinds and deafens, and, alas, calluses the heart, kills comradeship, drives away friendship in its eager selfishness, and in so doing, lets in a flood of worries that ever beset its victims. They may not always be in evidence while there is the momentary triumph of climbing, but they are there waiting, ready to teeter the pedestal, whisper of its unsure and unstable condition, call attention to those who are digging around its foundations, and to the fliers in the air, who threaten to hurl down bombs and completely destroy it.
Phaeton begged that his father, Phoebus Apollo, allow him to drive the flaming chariot of day through the heavens, and, in spite of all warnings and cautions, insisted upon his power and ability. Though instructed and informed as to the great dangers he evoked, he seized the reins with delight, stood up in the chariot, and urged on the snorting steeds to furious speed. Soon conscious of a lighter load than usual, the steeds dashed on, tossing the chariot as a ship at sea, and rushed headlong from the traveled road of the middle zone. The Great and Little Bear were scorched, and the Serpent that coils around the North Pole was warmed to life. Now filled with fear and dread, Phaeton lost self-control, and looked repentant to the goal which he could never reach. The unrestrained steeds dashed hither and thither among the stars, and reaching the Earth, set fire to trees, cities, harvests, mountains. The air became hot and lurid. The rivers, springs, and snowbanks were dried up. The Earth then cried out in her agony to Jupiter for relief, and he launched a thunderbolt at the now cowed and brokenhearted driver, which not only struck him from the seat he had dishonored, but also out of existence.
The old mythologists were no fools. They saw the worries, the dangers, the sure end of ambition. They wrote their cautions and warnings against it in this graphic story. Why will men and women, for the sake of an uncertain and unsure goal, tempt the Fates, and, at the same time, surely bring upon themselves a thousand unnecessary worries that sting, nag, taunt, fret, and distress? Far better seek a goal of certainty, a harbor of sureness, in the doing of kindly deeds, noble actions, unselfish devotion to the uplift of others. In this mad rush of ambitious selfishness, such a life aim may seem chimerical, yet it is the only aim that will reach, attain, endure. For all earthly fame, ambitious attainment, honor, glory is evanescent and temporary. Like the wealth of the miser, it must be left behind.
There is no pocket in any shroud yet devised which will convey wealth across the River of Death, and no man's honors and fame but that fade in the clear light of the Spirit that shines in the land beyond.
Then, ambitious friend, quit your worrying, readjust your aim, trim your lamp for another and better guest, live for the uplift of others, seek to give help and strength to the needy, bring sunshine to the darkened, give of your abundance of spirit and exuberance to those who have little or none, and thus will you lay up treasure within your own soul which will convert hell into heaven, and give you joy forever.
So long as men and women believe that happiness lies in outdistancing, surpassing their fellows in exterior or material things, they cannot help but be subjects to worry. To determine to gain a larger fortune than that possessed by another man is a sure invitation to worry to enter into possession of one's soul.
Who has not seen the vain struggles, the distress, the worry of unsatisfied ambitions that would have amounted to nothing had they been gratified? In Women's Clubs—as well as men's—many a heart-ache is caused because some other woman gains an office, is elected to a position, is appointed on a committee you had coveted.
The remedy for this kind of worry is to change the aim of life. Instead of making position, fame, the attainment of fortune, office, a fine house, an automobile, the object of existence, make the doing of something worthy a noble manhood or womanhood the object of your ambition. Strive to make yourself worthy to be the best president your club has ever had; endeavor to be the finest equipped, mentally, for the work that is to be done, whether you are chosen to do it or not, and keep on, and on, and still on, finding your joy in the work, in the benefit it is to yourself, in the power it is storing up within you.
Then, as sure as the sun shines, the time will come when you will be chosen to do the needed work. "Your own will come to you." Nothing can hinder it. It will flow as certainly into your hands as the waters of the river flow into the sea.
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