I try to keep at least one book going at all times. But I'm a slow reader, mostly confining my time to late night. I get a chapter or two in and I'm done. For the most part, I read non-fiction, history, leaning toward the American Civil War.
But one of the books I've been working on is The Journals of Lewis and Clark, edited by Bernard DeVoto. The other day I came across the passage below.
When I read it, it made me feel worthless and at the same time, inspired. What he accomplished, at age 30, is unmatched by todays standards (as a sidebar, Meriwether Lewis committed suicide, arguably, at age 35 in a tavern at Grinder's Stand along the Natchez Trace in Mississippi).
From near the Continental Divide. Sunday, August 18th, 1805.
"This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world.
I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little, indeed, to further the happiness of the human race or to advance the information of the succeeding generation.
I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought, and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existence, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestowed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself."