The words of the wise prod us to live well.
They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.
They are given by God, the one Shepherd.
Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, is one of my favorite kids’ books of all time. In it, Milo, his watchdog Tock, and the Humbug have to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason. Of course, they have all sorts of adventures along the way. After they succeed, Milo has the following conversation with the princesses and two kings (King Azaz of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopoplis).
“They’re shouting for you,” [Rhyme] said with a smile.
“But I never could have done it,” [Milo] objected, “without everyone’s help.”
“That may be true,” Reason said gravely, “but you had the courage to try; and what you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do.”
“That’s why,” said Azaz, “there was one very important thing about your quest that we couldn’t discuss until you returned.”
“I remember,” Milo said eagerly. “Tell me now.”
“It was impossible,” said the king, looking at the Mathemagician.
“Completely impossible,” said the Mathemagician, looking at the king. “Do you mean—” stammered the bug, who suddenly felt a bit faint.
“Yes, indeed,” they repeated together; “but if we’d told you then, you might not have gone — and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”
And for the remainder of the ride Milo didn’t utter a sound.
From page 247 of the 1964 Random House edition of The Phantom Tollbooth.
I want to remember this: “what you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do,” and “so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”
This week Tuesday through Friday I’m in Pomeroy teaching a bike class. At the same time, Ian is going on a business trip to New York. If you want to burglarize our house, this is your chance. Also, I won’t have access to the Internet much, if at all, during the week, so after today, expect to hear back some time next Saturday-ish from me.