英语散文朗诵

01
  Ambition

  It is not difficult to imagine a world short of ambition. It would probably be a kinder world: with out demands, without abrasions, without disappointments. People would have time for reflection. Such work as they did would not be for themselves but for the collectivity. Competition would never enter in. conflict would be eliminated, tension become a thing of the past. The stress of creation would be at an end. Art would no longer be troubling, but purely celebratory in its functions. Longevity would be increased, for fewer people would die of heart attack or stroke caused by tumultuous endeavor. Anxiety would be extinct. Time would stretch on and on, with ambition long departed from the human heart.

  Ah, how unrelieved boring life would be!

  There is a strong view that holds that success is a myth, and ambition therefore a sham. Does this mean that success does not really exist? That achievement is at bottom empty? That the efforts of men and women are of no significance alongside the force of movements and events now not all success, obviously, is worth esteeming, nor all ambition worth cultivating. Which are and which are not is something one soon enough learns on one’s own. But even the most cynical secretly admit that success exists; that achievement counts for a great deal; and that the true myth is that the actions of men and women are useless. To believe otherwise is to take on a point of view that is likely to be deranging. It is, in its implications, to remove all motives for competence, interest in attainment, and regard for posterity.

  We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time or conditions of our death. But within all this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we shall live: courageously or in cowardice, honorably or dishonorably, with purpose or in drift. We decide what is important and what is trivial in life. We decide that what makes us significant is either what we do or what we refuse to do. But no matter how indifferent the universe may be to our choices and decisions, these choices and decisions are ours to make. We decide. We choose. And as we decide and choose, so are our lives formed. In the end, forming our own destiny is what ambition is about.

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02
  When Love Beckons You

  When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you, yield to him, though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you, believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

  For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to our roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

  But if, in your fear, you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover  your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but it self and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not, nor would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love.

  Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must have desires, let these be your desires:

  To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

  To know the pain of too much tenderness.

  To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

  And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

  To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

  To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;

  To return home at eventide with gratitude;

  And then to sleep with a payer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

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03
  The 50-Percent Theory of Life

  I believe in the 50-percent theory. Half the time things are better than normal; the other half, they re worse. I believe life is a pendulum swing. It takes time and experience to understand what normal is, and that gives me the perspective to deal with the surprises of the future.

  Let’s benchmark the parameters: yes, I will die. I’ve dealt with the deaths of both parents, a best friend, a beloved boss and cherished pets. Some of these deaths have been violent, before my eyes, or slow and agonizing. Bad stuff, and it belongs at the bottom of the scale.

  Then there are those high points: romance and marriage to the right person; having a child and doing those Dad things like coaching my son’s baseball team, paddling around the creek in the boat while he’s swimming with the dogs, discovering his compassion so deep it manifests even in his kindness to snails, his imagination so vivid he builds a spaceship from a scattered pile of Legos.

  But there is a vast meadow of life in the middle, where the bad and the good flip-flop acrobatically. This is what convinces me to believe in the 50-percent theory.

  One spring I planted corn too early in a bottomland so flood-prone that neighbors laughed. I felt chagrined at the wasted effort. Summer turned brutal---the worst heat wave and drought in my lifetime. The air-conditioned died; the well went dry; the marriage ended; the job lost; the money gone. I was living lyrics from a country tune---music I loathed. Only a surging Kansas City Royals team buoyed my spirits.

  Looking back on that horrible summer, I soon understood that all succeeding good things merely offset the bad. Worse than normal wouldn’t last long. I am owed and savor the halcyon times. The reinvigorate me for the next nasty surprise and offer assurance that can thrive. The 50-percent theory even helps me see hope beyond my Royals’ recent slump, a field of struggling rookies sown so that some year soon we can reap an October harvest.

  For that on blistering summer, the ground moisture was just right, planting early allowed pollination before heat withered the tops, and the lack of rain spared the standing corn from floods. That winter my crib overflowed with corn---fat, healthy three-to-a-stalk ears filled with kernels from heel to tip---while my neighbors’ fields yielded only brown, empty husks.

  Although plantings past may have fallen below the 50-percent expectation, and they probably will again in the future, I am still sustained by the crop that flourishes during the drought.

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