I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.
~ Og Mandino
The wording of this quote is interesting. Mr. Mandino does not say, “I love the light…”, but rather, “I will love the light…” He’s speaking of an act of the will, a conscious decision to love the light, and, he gives his rationale – because it shows him the way.
Og Mandino believed firmly that each man must determine the path of his own life, through study and reflection, and make rational choices about his goals and the best path to follow to achieve them. This is a man who devoured volumes of self-help and philosophical works to determine his own life path after perching precariously on the edge of suicide. He emerged from his studies with a philosophy that led him on the path of success, and he has shared this wisdom in many published books.
Since the light of day, or of any other source will allow us to see the path where we must walk, we love this light and come to depend on it, lest we stumble. This literal understanding of Mandino’s words seems too easy and somewhat superficial. Since we have this quote out of context, I’m going to interpret his words as imagery.
When Mandino speaks of “the light”, I choose to believe he means “truth”. I love the truth because it shows me the way – to live well. Be mindful that at one point in his life, this man was on the brink of suicide. So living well, in confidence, with hope of achieving his dreams became extremely important. The thing that impresses me, is that Mandino did not sit around waiting for some sage to lay the truth upon him. He wasn’t looking for a seminar or a motivational speaker. This man went to the public library and spent untold hours devouring every self-help and economics volume he could find.
Mandino found his own truth by reading the works of many great minds, analyzing their ideas and synthesizing their theories into a set of principles that made sense to him. He had a burning desire to be successful, so he put his learning into practice. In time, Og Mandino became a very wealthy man. His real beauty can be seen in the fact that he chose not to hoard and hide his “truth”, but to share it with others.
The quote goes on to say that he endures the darkness because it shows him the stars. Literally true, that on a clear, cloudless night, the beauty of the stars can be seen in the blackness of the night sky. This nocturnal beauty has been, down through the ages, a favourite subject of many a poet and song-writer. Despite the unsettling psychological feeling we get from darkness, it is easier to endure when we behold the brilliant stars above.
However, it can be argued that, for him, the darkness represented the absence of knowledge and understanding – which in his own case, once led to despair. But in his darkest moment he beheld the beauty of the stars – his dreams and goals. Their power enkindled within him a burning desire and a determination to seek out the way to realize his dreams.
And he did.
Og Mandino is saying to us, “Study, learn, and work hard.” Being successful requires intelligence, effort, determination and most importantly, for me, courage. Courage is the key ingredient to keep us on the right path. Success can be defined in many different ways – it doesn’t have to mean financial success. One goal we should all have is to be successful as a woman or a man – to be a person of great substance. In my sixth decade, I am a work in progress… still seeking my truth, and confident I will achieve my dreams.