Enthusiasm

When a child first meets with a flower, a butterfly, or any other attractive bit of color, it is though creation existed for him alone. Gleefully he shows his little treasures with a joy far exceeding their importance. The moon fills him with wonder, the stars excite his inquiry, all the world about him makes instant appeal to his curiosity; and as he grows more and more perceptive, he responds for a time to each new impression with increasing enthusiasm. With advancing youth, however, these early impressions often lose their spontaneity. More unusual objects and experiences are requisite to awaken his interest, and manhood sometimes finds him wholly unresponsive to the simple beauties of nature in which he once delighted.

Why is this? The flower is not less lovely, the insect's wing less brilliant, or the bird's song less melodious; yet their appeal is no longer felt. In the instance of an artist, these early impressions are not only retained, but they grow more keen, and this because he sees not less but more in all things. The mature painter perceives colors to which he was formerly a stranger; the musician is able to evolve a symphony from the theme furnished by a bit of bird song; while the poet weaves a sonnet out of a simple starbeam. To these a new world is ever being revealed, that wonderful world which is sometimes called "the realm of the imagination." Evidently the intrinsic worth of these sources of inspiration remains unchanged, and any lack of joy in them is due only to lack of growth within ourselves. Through inaction, our sensibilities become blunted, our estimate of real values dulled, while our enthusiasm, that concomitant of eternal youth, has grown old along with our false concept of age.

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Receiving and Giving
January 30, 1915
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