Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. — Confucius
One is sometimes tempted to envy the flowers in their effortless unfolding of leaf and petal. The sun pours forth his measureless munificence and they respond with gorgeous bloom and green exuberant growth. With neither toil nor any sense of strain they open to the radiant bounty of the solar heart.
But when, at length, we reach the human stage a new and powerful factor makes itself felt — the cogitating, restless, and adventurous mind. No longer do we find a merely passive response to the cosmic stimulant to growth: there arises the novel tendency to self-directed evolution, so that, in addition to the general urge that animates all forms of life there springs to action the desire for individual expression. The special and peculiar tendencies unfolded from within, in response to the various situations in which we find ourselves during our long passage through material things, demand an outlet for expression. The leisurely progress, so apparent in the lower kingdoms, gives way to a notable acceleration when the man-state is entered upon. New powers emerge into activity, new senses come to life, and from beginnings which at first are hardly more than inaudible whispers, they, by degrees, insist on being heard.
The process of learning the use of unfamiliar faculties must of necessity result in frequent failure, so that a backward glance along the path reveals an unbroken track of wreckage and of efforts that have failed.
Lack of experience can be cured only by use that gives familiarity, and to sit down in dull despair is only to dishearten those who tread with us the everlasting way. Inaction and despondency are signs of our having lost touch with that exhaustless fount of energy that will never fail us while the solar heart still beats and the bright photosphere still radiates his beams to all the darkest corners of the earth. Our care should be to keep the channel clear and to attempt the thing we never tried before as opportunities arrive. The wreckage we have left behind is used again in Nature's wise economy, and forces that have seemingly been spent and scattered are employed once more. Our business is to utilize the flying moments as they pass and serve as conscious agents to direct the universal life-force to the great purposes already dimly looming through the curtain that obscures our veiled tomorrow from today. The past must be ignored because our time for doing things is the Eternal Now, and glances back along the path we came can serve only to dissipate the powers that should be concentrated on our present work.
Students of history must often be amazed to note the recovery of races of mankind from catastrophes which would seem to have overwhelmed them in final disaster. But in the slow procession of the years the hideous scars of battle are grown over by a mantle of green turf and poppies swaying in the wind, and fields where armies grappled are now the pasture grounds of flocks and herds. Cities whose towers were levelled in the dust raise once again their domes and temples to the morning sun, and countrysides that once resounded with the thunder of the guns are vocal with the mating songs of blackbirds and of larks.
The law of rhythm and recurrence is everywhere at work, and is in operation in our individual lives as elsewhere; and though the cosmic life is inexhaustible it has its periodic ebb and flow and must not be ignored. There are neutral periods when utter deadness supervenes, and these are the pauses, the stagnation points, when the ebb has ceased and yet the flowing tide has not resumed its forward sweep. These periods may be very trying to the inexperienced, who are apt to feel alone and forsaken, while cold despair seems waiting to engulf them in a fathomless abyss. But let them carry on with patience for a while, for presently the surgeless, silent sea will rise again and sweep them onwards once again upon their voyage that has no end.
This universal urge is everywhere at work and though our selfish will may prove refractory and though our indolence may be a drag upon its onward course, its march is irresistible and only as we willingly co-operate is happiness to be obtained. Our opposition can result in nothing but unavailing struggle and ultimate defeat, and our satisfaction will always be found in forwarding its purposes and using our intelligence to further its beneficent designs.