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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsHow To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter II - THE DESIRE TO EXCEED ONE'S PROGRAMME, 28
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How To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter II - THE DESIRE TO EXCEED ONE'S PROGRAMME, 28 Post by :Got_Pez Category :Nonfictions Author :Arnold Bennett Date :March 2011 Read :3089

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How To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter II - THE DESIRE TO EXCEED ONE'S PROGRAMME, 28

"But," someone may remark, with the English disregard of everything
except the point, "what is he driving at with his twenty-four hours a day?
I have no difficulty in living on twenty-four hours a day. I do all that I
want to do, and still find time to go in for newspaper competitions. Surely
it is a simple affair, knowing that one has only twenty-four hours a day, to
content one's self with twenty-four hours a day!"

To you, my dear sir, I present my excuses and apologies. You are precisely
the man that I have been wishing to meet for about forty years. Will you
kindly send me your name and address, and state your charge for telling me
how you do it? Instead of me talking to you, you ought to be talking to me.
Please come forward. That you exist, I am convinced, and that I have not
yet encountered you is my loss. Meanwhile, until you appear, I will continue
to chat with my companions in distress--that innumerable band of souls who
are haunted, more or less painfully, by the feeling that the years slip by, and
slip by, and slip by, and that they have not yet been able to get their lives into
proper working order.

If we analyse that feeling, we shall perceive it to be, primarily, one of
uneasiness, of expectation, of looking forward, of aspiration. It is a source
of constant discomfort, for it behaves like a skeleton at the feast of all our
enjoyments. We go to the theatre and laugh; but between the acts it raises
a skinny finger at us. We rush violently for the last train, and while we are
cooling a long age on the platform waiting for the last train, it promenades
its bones up and down by our side and inquires: "O man, what hast thou
done with thy youth? What art thou doing with thine age?" You may urge
that this feeling of continuous looking forward, of aspiration, is part of life
itself, and inseparable from life itself. True!

But there are degrees. A man may desire to go to Mecca. His conscience
tells him that he ought to go to Mecca. He fares forth, either by the aid of
Cook's, or unassisted; he may probably never reach Mecca; he may drown
before he gets to Port Said; he may perish ingloriously on the coast of the
Red Sea; his desire may remain eternally frustrate. Unfulfilled aspiration
may always trouble him. But he will not be tormented in the same way as
the man who, desiring to reach Mecca, and harried by the desire to reach
Mecca, never leaves Brixton.

It is something to have left Brixton. Most of us have not left Brixton. We
have not even taken a cab to Ludgate Circus and inquired from Cook's the
price of a conducted tour. And our excuse to ourselves is that there are only
twenty-four hours in the day.

If we further analyse our vague, uneasy aspiration, we shall, I think, see
that it springs from a fixed idea that we ought to do something in addition
to those things which we are loyally and morally obliged to do. We are
obliged, by various codes written and unwritten, to maintain ourselves
and our families (if any) in health and comfort, to pay our debts, to save,
to increase our prosperity by increasing our efficiency. A task sufficiently
difficult! A task which very few of us achieve! A task often beyond our
skill! yet, if we succeed in it, as we sometimes do, we are not satisfied; the
skeleton is still with us.

And even when we realise tat the task is beyond our skill, that our powers
cannot cope with it, we feel that we should be less discontented if we gave
to our powers, already overtaxed, something still further to do.

And such is, indeed, the fact. The wish to accomplish something outside
their formal programme is common to all men who in the course of evolution
have risen past a certain level.

Until an effort is made to satisfy that wish, the sense of uneasy waiting for
something to start which has not started will remain to disturb the peace of
the soul. That wish has been called by many names. It is one form of the
universal desire for knowledge. And it is so strong that men whose whole
lives have been given to the systematic acquirement of knowledge have
been driven by it to overstep the limits of their programme in search of
still more knowledge. Even Herbert Spencer, in my opinion the greatest
mind that ever lived, was often forced by it into agreeable little backwaters
of inquiry.

I imagine that in the majority of people who are conscious of the wish to
live--that is to say, people who have intellectual curiosity--the aspiration
to exceed formal programmes takes a literary shape. They would like to
embark on a course of reading. Decidedly the British people are becoming
more and more literary. But I would point out that literature by no means
comprises the whole field of knowledge, and that the disturbing thirst to
improve one's self--to increase one's knowledge--may well be slaked quite
apart from literature. With the various ways of slaking I shall deal later.
Here I merely point out to those who have no natural sympathy with
literature that literature is not the only well.

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How To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter III - PRECAUTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING, 35 How To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter III - PRECAUTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING, 35

How To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter III - PRECAUTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING, 35
Now that I have succeeded (if succeeded I have) in persuading you to admit to yourself that you are constantly haunted by a suppressed dissatisfaction with your own arrangement of your daily life; and that the primal cause of that inconvenient dissatisfaction is the feeling that you are every day leaving undone something which you would like to do, and which, indeed, you are always hoping to do when you have "more time"; and now that I have drawn your attention to the glaring, dazzling truth that you never will have "more time," since you already have all the time there

How To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter I - THE DAILY MIRACLE, 21 How To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter I - THE DAILY MIRACLE, 21

How To Live On 24 Hours A Day - Chapter I - THE DAILY MIRACLE, 21
"Yes, he's one of those men that don't know how to manage. Good situation. Regular income. Quite enough for luxuries as well as needs. Not really extravagant. And yet the fellow's always in difficulties. Somehow he gets nothing out of his money. Excellent flat--half empty! Always looks as if he'd hadthe brokers in. New suit--old hat! Magnificent necktie--baggy trousers! Asks you to dinner: cut glass--bad mutton, or Turkish coffee--cracked cup! He can't understand it. Explanation simplyis that he fritters his income away. Wish I had the