June 25. “Some people think they have burning ambition when it is merely inflammation of the wishbone.” (Cross Roads, The Book)
In college I had to take a few philosophy classes. One of them as taught by a fairly eccentric professor who had many colorful quips he would use to spice up his lectures. One that stuck with me is “When wishes are horses, beggars will ride.”
Having big dreams is a great way to expand my horizon. I have written before about the idea of building castles in the sky, and of having a nearly limitless view of what can be. Setting lofty goals encourages me to excel beyond the ordinary and reach greater achievement. But setting those lofty goals does not automatically mean they will be achieved.
Many people wish that their lives were different. I will admit there are times when I feel the tug of the wishbone in my own life. But wishing doesn’t make things change. No matter how many coins I toss into a well or a fountain, no matter how great is my success at blowing out birthday candles, and regardless of how many dandelion heads I may puff off, wishing will not change anything in my life. If I want something, I know that I have to work for it.
Whether I am looking to lose weight, have a comfortable retirement, make improvements in my home, or achieve goals at work, I know that the only way anything will be accomplished is to roll up my sleeves and attack the project. Yesterday I wrote about fanning the ember of motivation within myself. Today’s quote uses the word ambition as a synonym, and reminds me of the same truth.
I think it is easy to distinguish between ambition and merely a wish. Ambition is closely allied with action. A person who has ambition in life is always in motion, where the wishers are sitting idly by.
As I am sitting here reflecting on this quote, I know that there are some areas of my life where I have clear, burning ambition. I also know that there are others where that ambition is on hold, or on the back burner. I cannot have burning ambition in every place of my life at once, or I will never sleep. For me the key is to be working hard on the right things, and to keep those others simmering, knowing that their time will come.