Burn the candle at both ends

Burning the candle at both ends always has appealed to me.
After all, you get twice as much light that way.
Says Edna St. Vincent Millay: “My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–It gives a lovely light.”
Sometimes we’re tempted to take too much care of ourselves. To make sure we get eight hours of sleep, don’t overdo, and reduce stress to zero.
Now, actually, those are all good things to do—provided we don’t end up looking inward so much that we actually increase stress and reduce the joy of life by focusing on the mechanics that should come naturally.
Thomas Edison didn’t worry about how much sleep he got. And he gave us the electric light bulb and the phonograph. On top of that, Edison lived to be 84 years old.
Who would not hesitate to use Edison as a role model? The World Book Encyclopedia says Edison was “probably the greatest inventor in history.”
Imagine that. And he did it all for 84 years on three-four hours of sleep a night. Sometimes he would go for days at a time, stopping only for short naps.
That’s being involved in life.
Edison defined genius as “one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” And he was willing to invest that enormous amount of hard work and sacrifice without thinking of the consequences.
As a result, he played a significant role in perfecting the typewriter, the telephone, the motion picture, and the electric generator. And we all revere him.
Edison could have listened to the advice of those who caution against burning your candle out too quickly. He could have listened to the shoulds of behaviour. But he didn’t.
He rather listened to the dreamer within. He did what that inner dreamer told him to do.
We can spend our days counting our cholesterol and taking our blood pressure if we want to, and making sure we protect our candles. Without question, there’s a time and a place for those things.
But there’s also a time for abandon. A time to get so involved that we forget to sleep. A time to let the energy flow effortless when you have creative projects underway.
Like Edison, you may have a dream that needs doing, a book that needs writing, a cabinet that needs building, a business that needs starting, a garden that needs planting, or a painting that begs to be created.
When that inner dream strikes, it’s time to throw caution to the winds. Don’t be afraid of overdoing. Very few people die of overwork. A much greater number slowly whither on the vine because they stop doing challenging things.
And in the grand scheme of things, can you think of a better way to go than having invested all of your life energy into the important work for which you were put here on Earth?
So whenever someone warns you not to burn your candle on both ends, don’t listen.
Remember, candles are meant to be burned and life is meant to be lived.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@cox.net