A man without any ambition is a boat without the sails. It can drift in any direction and at the end of the day may find life a fruitless and frustrated nothingness.
There needs to be some point, some direction in life which may lead one on and on. R.L. Stevenson an English essayist has said ‘An aspiration is a joy for ever.
To travel hopefully is better than to arrive’. If one has arrived, the joy of the journey is over. You keep enjoying a journey with the expectancy of reaching.
Once you have reached, that buoyancy filling you during the journey is over. This does not, so much mean, that one should not achieve what one wants to but any achievement should not be taken ‘as the land’s end.
What you achieve today should inspire you to try to achieve still more and still further. That would keep life with a ‘living and kicking’ sensation and shall vivify you, otherwise there would hardly remain any charm and zest in living. There should ever be a goal to be achieved; if Kanchenjunga has been reached, Mt. Everest still should keep beckoning you.
That is what Stevenson meant when he said ‘an aspiration is a joy for ever’. An impetus is the elixir of life and that should never be lost. Achievements have no end, one leads to the next and the next to still next. The joy of winning a race is only when you have a competitor close at heels.
A lone runner may grow sluggish in his pace as he will take it for granted that he has won the race. Once having put in his best efforts to win at the national event, you begin looking forward to the World Olympics and even after winning at that you begin aspiring to retain the position even at the next.
Why should one try to gain and regain the championship at the Wimbledon tournament year after year and there have been players who have remained at the top for eight successive years. Why give up if you have the stamina but once you give up, the stamina gives you up.
The trophies are brought and kept aloft for the contesting final teams to get a look at them- It is to win that they have to fight hard. ‘Say not the struggle not availed’ wrote the poet Arthur Hugh Clough.
This is one side of the story. While ‘ambition’ and having an ambition is something worthy but over- ambition can become ‘fatal’. Macbeth is made to say by Shakespeare —
‘I’ve no spur to prick the sides of my intent but the vaulting ambition which overleaps and falls to the other side’ which overleaps and falls to the other side.
While ‘ambition’ may be an elixir, ‘vaulting ambition’ may prove a disaster ‘First deserve then desire’ — that is what the saying says. Aspire, but while doing so, try to know your capacity and judge your limits.
Otherwise ‘crying for the moon’ can lead to a life-time frustration and life would turn into a tragedy. ‘Know thyself — that is a religious preaching given by saints and sages — this means try to look within you and you will find the Eternal Being within you. That is the philosophical interpretation of the preaching.
But in the present context of ‘ambition’, it may be taken to mean — ‘Know your limits and aspire only that much as your limits permit’. Otherwise if you aspire only because aspire you have to; the result can be an everlasting frustration and despondency which would mean ‘death’ in life. It would become an incurable ‘malady’ which would torture and torment the mind at all times and in every measure.
Ambitions — the vaulting ones, has led to disasters. History is a record of such events. Alexander the Great, wanted to be known as the conqueror of the world and he conquered lands after lands. But his soldiers and his army had their own limits of sustaining Physical strain and at one point of time they virtually revolted and Alexander had to beat a retreat.
Ashok had the ambition to conquer Kalinga — hundreds and thousands were butchered. Ultimately, he could find no peace in warfare and peace came only for him in ‘Peace’- in ‘Dharmam Sharnam Gachchami’.
Such wild and unbridled ambitions have met with such misfortunes and maladies.
So to cut the long story short, it is good to have an ambition which is within one’s capacities but beyond that if one goes, malady awaits one — unsustainable and incurable.