Monday, May 26, 2008

Words of Inspiration

No. 1 son graduated from college this Memorial Day weekend. Given that his parents are writers, he was not surprised to receive personal letters commemorating the occasion. I struggled to find the perfect phrasing to inspire him as he stands on the threshold of his future. Then a fellow writer posted a quote in honor of Memorial Day. Although Oliver Wendell Holmes was talking about war during his 1884 address in Keene, NH, his words of inspiration could pertain to many life challenges -- whether it be charting a future course, battling an illness, espousing a cause or even being a writer.

"To act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate. One may fall at the beginning of the charge or at the top of the earthworks; but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory."

Many of us use quotes and sayings to motivate and comfort us. The three near my computer read: “Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars; “Do the Unexpected” and finally, “Don’t mess with Texas women.” (The latter applies to ex-temporary Texans, too.)

But I wish we’d known about the Holmes quote before we composed the letter to be opened by No. 2 son at his high school “senior retreat” last week. Instead of the lofty words of Holmes, our younger son got parental pride in his accomplishments and hopes for his college career. Although heartfelt, I doubt our words of wisdom will ever be part of any prestigious speech, quoted in a great book or even printed on a coffee cup. Nonetheless, I do hope he takes to heart our concluding message: “We love you -- Don’t screw up.”

What words inspire you?

No comments: