The Strangest Secret

  • For you, the secret was never a secret, quite, because for you it always seemed natural — not necessarily easy, of course, but obvious, and obviously right.

    It never mystified you, perhaps because you learned long ago that your body is a ship, your brain the pilot at the tip.

    Which is why everything you ever decided to do you learned to do with skill, having discovered that in matters such as these the decisive factor is the human will.

    You discovered that the secret key to the lock of life is nothing more — or less — than developing a durable purpose around which to arrange all the other things in your life, and against which all other things are measured and weighed.

    This, in any case, is what you conveyed.

    A central purpose, as you say, is the unifying factor that molds together the human clay and integrates all the other factors in your life, year-to-year, month-to-month, day-to-day. So that to be in control of your own life, you must build this fundamental purpose, and then not let it go.

    But why is this so?

    Because purpose forms the base and at the same time creates a kind of pyramid, the stones of which are your other desires, arranged in order of importance. This, in turn, spares you any number of internal clashes and strife. This great pyramid is your life.

    The central purpose that forms its base allows you to enjoy existence more abundantly, and on the widest conceivable scale.

    You, having discovered this long ago, could never after that truly go too far astray, or too disastrously fail.

    All the rest fell naturally into place.

    It’s one reason people argue about the liveliness of your eyes. It’s why they discuss the ineffable quality of your face.

    She was always a little reckless, they say, a reckless shooter, a long-shot, a shoot-from-the-hipper, but despite her wild misses always, deep down, believed she could be a star. There’s a certain languorous confidence about her (they say) a certain laid-back quality that’s fascinating, yes, but somehow it seems taken a little far.

    It makes her remote and solitary, like a star.

    Still, she’s kind and well-spoken and oddly charismatic, if rather fanatic, who never cared to hunt with the horde — indeed, never hunted at all — but chose instead to focus first upon the work, whatever it was (night-audit, waitress, secretary, clerk), not the party boys or the alcohol-fueled life.

    Nor, indeed, was there ever in you the all-consuming drive to be somebody’s girlfriend, or mistress, or wife.

    Work is healthy, you say, jobs are good for the soul. Work provides an outlet for creativity and expression. Life is work. Life is purposeful effort. It is an unceasing sequence of individual actions. Productive work is for this reason not meant to be a perfunctory performance, or jail sentence. It’s just the opposite: it’s a creative act, an act that’s nourishing.

    Productive effort is the sine-qua-non of human happiness and flourishing.

    It’s your continual progress forward, one step to another, one step at a time, one achievement to another, always upward and always guided by the continual expansion of your mind, your knowledge, your inexhaustible versatility and limitless ingenuity.

    Be happy in your work.

    Do you at any time reach a point when it’s too late to find a purpose, ever?

    No, you say, never.

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