Perhaps a few stories would indicate what these men can do, do well, and what they can be happy and satisfied in doing. There is a real need for them in the world.
George R. came to us late one evening in a little town in Illinois. He was nervous, weak, and diffident.
“I am now,” he said, “a salesman in a dry goods store. But I have only held the job three months and do not expect that I will be permitted to remain more than a week or so longer. I have been warned several times by the floor-walker that my errors will cost me my position. God knows, I do my best to succeed in the work, but it is like all the other positions I’ve held. Somehow or other I don’t seem to be able to give satisfaction. While I am on my guard and as alert as I know how to be against one of the things I’ve been told not to do, I am just as sure as sunshine to go and do some other thing which is against the rules. If I don’t do something against the rules, then I forget to do something I was told to do. If I don’t forget to do something I’ve been told to do, then I am quite likely to make some outlandish mistake that no one ever thought of framing a rule to fit. The result of it all is that in about another week or, at the most, two, I’ll be out of employment again. I have tried driving a delivery wagon. I’ve tried grocery stores. I’ve tried doing collections. I began once as clerk in a bank. Immediately after leaving college, I started in as newspaper reporter. I’ve been a newsboy on railroad trains. I sold candies and peanuts in a fair ground. I have been night clerk in a hotel. I’ve been steward on a steamboat. I’ve been a shipping clerk in a publishing house, and I have been fired from every job I have ever had. True enough, I’ve hated them all, but, nevertheless; I have tried to do my best in them. Why I cannot succeed with any of them, I don’t know, and yet I have a feeling that somehow, somewhere, sometime, I will find something to do that I will love, and that I can do well.”
“Music,” we said, “unquestionably music.”
“Do you think I could?” he said wistfully. “Music has been my passion all my life long. It has been my one joy, my one solace in all my wanderings and all my failures. But I have always been afraid I would fail also in that, and, if I should, it would break my heart sure. But if you think I have the talent, then I shall give my whole time, my whole thought, my whole energy to music hereafter.”
It was rather late in life for this young man to begin a musical career. While he had always been fond of music, he had been sent to college for a classical course by parents to whom a classical course meant everything that was desirable in an education. He had learned to play the piano, the violin, the guitar, the mandolin, and some other instruments, without education, because of his natural musical talent. He played them all as he had opportunity, for his own amusement, but, because of his ambition for commercial success, had never thought of music as a career. We wish we might tell you that this young man was now one of the foremost composers or conductors of his time. It would make an excellent story. Such, however, is not the case.