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But true love is a durable fire,
In the mind ever burning,
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning.
(Sir Walter Raleigh)
OF ALL THE ENTHUSIASTIC IDEAS IN THE WORLD, “FIRE” IS PERHAPS THE MOST ENTHUSIASTIC. The two words — “fire” and “enthusiasm” — are almost synonymous. When a cause is worthy of our enthusiasm, we appreciate and admire those who are “fired up” about it, and those cold souls who have no fire . . . well, we pity them.
Most of the great accomplishments in human history have been the result of a passion that burned in someone’s heart, and most people understand this fact. What is not so widely understood is the link between fire (enthusiasm) and learning. Lazy, apathetic people not only fail to accomplish anything, but they also fail to learn very much. Is it not the passionate people who are the real students? I believe so. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that without enthusiasm we never rise to an understanding of the really great truths about human life.
Unfocused and unrestrained enthusiasm can be quite damaging, of course, and so we recognize the need for a person’s fire to be governed by valid principles and channeled by self-discipline. Sigmund Freud was right when he wrote, “If the fire rages uncontrolled in a house, we call it a disastrous conflagration; if it burns in a smelting furnace, we call it a useful industrial force.” The last person you want to deal with is the fellow who has a fiery enthusiasm for something but no acquaintance with the concepts of discipline and governance.
But when a person (a) burns with passion, and (b) knows how to discipline that passion, there isn’t much he can’t do. That person will move mountains quicker than ten thousand who know about mountain-moving but don’t care whether the mountain gets moved or not.
So being passionate is a mighty good thing. Sadly, many people make the mistake of waiting for external circumstances (or perhaps a “motivational speaker”) to fire them up. They waste their lives complaining that nothing ever really stirred their interest. But the truth is: you have to strike your own match.
“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire” (Arnold H. Glasow).