fishingutopia.gif“It is only the memory of poverty that creates the social discipline necessary for prosperity. Once that is forgotten, the seeds of decay begin to sprout.”

This passage is from “Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future That Disappeared,” a memoir by Andrew Brown, a young Brit who rebelled and for a time lived in Sweden. I ran across a review of the book in The Economist and pre-ordered the book from, it not being available on the U.S. site at the time.

My purchase was motivated strictly those words, because they captured my thoughts: What is it that keeps us strong?

It sounds relatively benign to say that necessity is the mother of invention, but what if we need a bit more than that to fully motivate us?

Do we need the wolf at the door to keep us on our toes?

Do we need competition to bring out the best in us?

Do we need the threat of failure to achieve our greatest successes?

Do too many good times make us soft?

Does too long a period of prosperity leave us vulnerable?

My answer to the all of the above is a resounding YES!

We need, desperately need, opposition to overcome, to grow.

Hence the need to seek out challenge, to push our boundaries, seek the far outer edges of our abilities.

Never forget where you came from, never forget how you got where you are, how you fought, how you overcame. Don’t grow soft or complacent or they will eventually come take it away from you. Cherish your personal “memory of poverty,” rage against the dying of the light, do not go gentle into the good night, let not the seeds of decay take root.

“Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition——such as lifting weights——we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” (Stephen R. Covey)