Quote of the Month
“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”
– James A. Michener (February 1907 – October 1997) American author
James Michener was the classic “rags-to-riches” story. He was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in early February, 1907 (the exact date is possibly in question), and was immediately abandoned completely by both of his natural parents. Mabel Michener, a poor widow, took him in and raised him as a Quaker. His foster mother made a subsistence living doing laundry and sewing services for the locals. However, despite an extremely modest and less than ideal start in life, a sliver of insight into Michener’s future emerged when his boyhood friend Lester Trauch noted that “he was the poorest boy in school, but also the brightest boy.”
Michener enlisted in the US Naval Reserve when WWII broke out and was called to active duty in 1943. It was a pivotal moment for him. He ended up in the South Pacific in 1944, where he learned a great deal about the local customs and history. Those adventures gave him the idea to write his first book, Tales of the South Pacific in 1947. That book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and by 1949, the book was adapted by Rogers and Hammerstein into a popular musical.
Michener went on to write more than 40 books – which sold, in total, more than 75 million copies world-wide. And far from his inauspicious beginnings, he gave away more than $100M to charity during his lifetime.
Although Michener’s generous donations undoubtedly helped many people, it may be the message he tried to convey in his books for which he might well be most appreciated. That message was simple and clear…….”I really believe that every man on this Earth is my brother. He has a soul like mine, the ability to understand friendship, the capacity to create beauty. In all the continents of this world, I have met such men.”
While some might determine his views to be naïve, one can nevertheless appreciate his sentiments and value system as most worthy.
Born exactly 109 years ago this month, James Michener was the epitome of a life well lived. And one would suspect that his belief in the quote above had a lot to do with his success and accomplishments on all fronts – including getting married three times before he finally got it right!