The following was written by my great-great uncle—my great-grandfathers identical twin brother—Samuel Claude Boyce. It was originally published in the early 1900's in a Nashville, Tennessee newspaper. -William Boyce, Founder, PocketStoic
Get started! Life is short. “Don’t act as if you had a thousand years to live,” observed Marcus Aurelius. Here is a man who has some fine things in mind to do, but somehow he just can’t ever get around to doing them. He dreams, he desires, he even gathers material, but never actually begins; therefore, at the end of life he has never started.
Let us begin by admitting that this human weakness—putting off things—is no respecter of persons; it attacks all man. Only the strong survive. The weak succumb to its easy-satisfying whisper: “Got plenty of time,” “Will do it tomorrow,” and “Not hardly ready.” We like to beguile our naive souls with high intention to do it later. A few, however, flinging all such deceptive charms aside, begin to move at once.
All who struggle to overcome know that the hardest person with whom they can deal is self. The mind will suggest a thousand other things that we ought to do when once we start on some work. Even though the suggestions called to our attention may be really worthwhile, when we turn to one of them this same uncanny imagination will fling something else out before us equally urgent. Thus we pursue a sort of vicious circle, never getting anywhere.
Plain laziness, too, hinders us at every step. Like the Old Man of the Sea, it weighs us down. We had rather dream promising ourselves that we will act later.
Human nature is about the same in all ages. Like Felix, we are always looking for a convenient season to begin some work. We delude ourselves with the illusion that an ideal situation will arise that will make the task easier. The convenient time never comes. At the end of life we find ourselves back where we began.
Therefore, get started. Once a man gets actively into a great constructive work, he finds it enjoyable. He even wonders why he hated so much to begin.