In Ourselves Book II, Chapter IX on The Will, Charlotte Mason tells some stories of how certain people formed their characters and did the things that they did. What did they value, and what ideas did they pass on to others, even unconsciously? What were their lifetime playlists?
We come across a hero, a picture, an insect, a news story that makes us curious to know more, something we can make our own, something that extends our interest into related areas. We have been captured by an idea, but the capturing happens with intent on our side. And what does that have to do with the Will?
"The Will is, in fact, the instrument by which we appropriate the good, uplifting thought that comes our way; and it is as we seize upon such thought with intention, act upon it with purpose, struggle, with resolution, against obstacles, that we attain to character and usefulness in the world." (p. 164)Mason's further challenge is the equivalent of this: do we want to be remembered mainly for devotion to a 1970's song? For a love of drugstore romance novels? A collection of ceramic teddy bears? A trophy from the church golf tournament? In the words of another song, "That don't impress me much." We recognize an idea that was worthwhile to begin with because it leads us into a place of magnanimity, help us see things in a bigger way, beyond ourselves.
"Wherefore, in books and men, let us look out for the best society, that which yields a bracing and wholesome influence. We all know the person for whose company we are the better, though the talk is only about fishing or embroidery." (p. 163)But we aren't all going to earn a Pulitzer or a Nobel or a Caldecott. We can't all invent vaccines, write symphonies, or advise presidents. What if we are very ordinary, plain people, who go about our everyday work and maybe do listen to '70's rock or collect ceramic teddy bears? Listen, Charlotte Mason says: it's all about how you do it.
"But no one need feel left out in the cold because his work seems to be for no greater a purpose than that of earning his living. That, too, is a great end, if he wills to do it with a single aim. He need not mourn that he has no influence; everyone has influence, not in the ratio of his opportunities, nor even of his exertions, but in that of his own personality. Mansoul is in truth a kingdom whose riches and opportunities are for whosoever will." (pp. 163-164, italics hers)