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February 22, 2018 Thursday 10:56:34 AM IST



A. J. Cronin (1896-1981) was a young medical doctor in London with a fairly good income in the 1920s. With his good looks and amiable nature he was well-liked by his patients. As he was highly interested in acquiring knowledge he spent a lot of time reading books. However, he was not really happy as he felt there was something missing in his life.


In the meantime, he got sick with chronic ulcer and was advised by his doctor to move to a village and live there for at least six months on a simple diet. Accordingly, Cronin went to a village in Scotland and lived there at the house of a farmer. He had nothing to do there other than recovering his health with the prescribed food and regular exercise. Soon he got bored and hit upon the idea of writing a novel.


Cronin did not have any experience of writing except scribbling prescriptions for his patients. However, he started writing his first novel after doing some research at Dumbarton Public Library. He began cautiously, producing only around 800 words on the first day. On the second day he did much better. At the end of a month writing became easy for him.


But when he read what he had written so far he felt it was worthless. Without thinking twice about it he took the whole manuscript and threw it into the fireplace. Then he went for a walk to relieve his tension. While he was out in the farm he saw his host working hard in the scorching sun and told him what he had done with his manuscript.


“Probably you have done the right thing doctor,” the farmer said after listening to his story. “And what I am doing now may be the wrong thing. I have been working hard for many years. But I have never made much money and have not become wealthy.” After a few moments of silence he continued, “But I know one thing. Only with hard work can I succeed. So, let me continue my work.”


It was a moment of enlightenment for Cronin for he ran back to the fireplace for his manuscript. Luckily it was untouched by fire and he recovered it intact. Writing for another month he completed the novel and sent it to a publisher. Soon Cronin’s first novel came out under the title Hatter’s Castle (1931) which became an instant bestseller. This novel has been translated into 19 languages and Hollywood brought out a much admired movie in 1942 based on this novel.


It was Cronin himself who told this story of his life in one of his later articles. And he did this to remind people not to lose their self-confidence and not to abandon their dreams when faced with serious obstacles in life. Initially, Cronin had the confidence to write a novel. However, soon he had lost his self-confidence and abandoned the project itself. It was then the farmer reminded him that it was only with self-confidence and hard work that he had found his success. And Cronin found his by regaining his self-confidence and working hard.


All of us have all kinds of dreams and ambitions in life. However, many of us give up our dreams and ambitions as we begin to face obstacles and challenges one after another. It is easy to give up. But if we have the determination not to give up and stay the course, we will then have a much better story to tell. People who have achieved success over the years will always tell us that they found success primarily because they refused to give up.


Bjorn Borg was one of the greatest tennis players in history. When this Swedish player started playing professional tennis in the 1970s he became an instant success. He went on winning championships one after another. But don’t ever think he won all those championships without struggle. In fact, many of his victories came because he was not willing to give up.


Borg’s real strength may be found in the following quote that is attributed to him: “My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of victories shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories.” Borg became a great success in tennis because he had the willingness to fight to the end without giving up. As he said it was his persistence that finally paid off in the end.


What we need in our life is also persistence and hard work backed by self-confidence. In other words, like Borg we should never give up even when our efforts sometimes end up in failure. And these failures will often help us to achieve success in realising our dreams and ambitions.

Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, CMI

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