Essay No. 116:
Better To Wear Out Than To Rust Out: The maxim gives a practical message to man. Under no condition, he should allow his talent, capabilities rust. He most makes continual use of his talent to benefit himself and the society he belongs to. If there is a talented short-story writer he should go on producing literature rooted in the problems of a man of his contemporary times.
If the writer stops writing, it would ultimately rust his talent. He must continue the pen-pushing practice to produce the first-rate short stories. I saw a poet, who had always a pen and a diary with him. He would immediately open the diary and write down the verse ascended on him. One should make the best use of one’s talents through constant struggle.
Different categories of labour must come into motion to utilize its talent and expertise in the larger interests of the society to contribute to its growth. If the skilled labour remains deliberately unemployed despite the availability of employment, its talent would rust out in course of time. Nations develop because of the collective use of talent.
Life is strife. Man cannot exist without making a struggle. Life would lose all charms if man ceases to make a struggle to improve his socio-economic environment. The talent in man would go waste. It would rust if a man becomes sluggish and indolent in life. Late Lord Russel in ‘Conquest of Happiness’ (chapter Work) rightly remarks that an uninteresting work is better than no work at all.
Late justice M.R. Kayani in one of his speeches remarked that he picked up scythe in his hands-on Sundays to remove the parasites around the flower-plants, though in that process he perspired profusely. He was of the view that the best way to remove mental parasites was to work-whether interesting or uninteresting.
Hence those who are against stagnation and sloth, do not feel shy about doing work in their respective fields under all conditions. They don’t shirk doing work. They prefer activity to sloth or inaction. Life demands that man should not rest unnecessarily. He must pick up cudgels against unfavourable circumstances. Stagnation does not suit life.
If man were to act like Tennyson’s ‘Lotus-eaters’ he would be divested of grace and action in life. There is no room for escapism in life. A pigeon closes his eyes at the time of the attack by a cat. Likewise, an ostrich at the time of storm buries its beak under the sand, and is ultimately buried under sand dune.
Men who show ostrich’s attitude towards the realities of life are thrown out of the arena of life. Hence pleasure lies in pursuing one’s goal steadfastly for its ultimate attainment. Wisdom demands action and not sloth in life. Hence one should exhaust oneself after day’s labour before going to bed.
A newly-acquired car would rust out if stationed permanently in the garage. The engine if not set in motion would generate rust overtime. The car should be kept in motion always. Likewise, the engine of man i.e., the mind, would rust if not energized. The need is to work and perspire rather than to sit indolently.
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Earnst Hammingway’s ‘the Old Man and the Sea’ furnishes the example of constant struggle. The old man does not sit idle when he fails to catch a big fish, for more than two months. He does not wish to rust out his skill though he cannot get a big fish. He does not lose his heart.
With renewed vigour and determination he goes to the sea world to face its hazards single-handedly. The tragedy arises when after having caught a big fish, it is attacked by sharks. The sharks take the flesh out of the body of the fish and the old man is left with only a skeleton of bones.
The old man does not feel disappointed and is once again ready to try his luck. He does not sit idle but is surcharged with a strong will-power to face the hazards of the sea world.