The problem is maddening. The thing you seek is so close, you feel you could reach out and touch it. You feel it is your immutable destiny to do so. You have not come this far and at such a cost merely to turn around and go back. There is a solution. Of this you are certain. Now, no longer a game of mass, a game of destiny, it has become, instead a contest of wills. You focus on That Which You Seek as if your gaze alone might bring it closer or narrow the distance between you. Just as it feels as if your mind itself will explode from the strain.
Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you reach your destiny.
I want to do the right thing, but often I don't know just what the right thing is. Every day I know I have come short of what I would like to have done. Yet as the years pass and I see the very world itself, with its oceans and mountains and plains, as something unfinished, a peculiar little satisfaction hunts out the corners of my heart. Sunsets and evening shadows find me regretful at task's undone, but sleep and the dawn and the air of the morning touch me with freshening hopes. Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night wind and I don't worry about my destiny.
New England is a finished place. Its destiny is that of Florence or Venice, not Milan while the American empire careens onward toward its unpredicted end. . . . It is the first American section to be finished to achieve stability in the conditions of its life. It is the first old civilization, the first permanent civilization in America.
Bernard de Voto (1897 - 1955)
Source: New England: There She Stands. In Harper's Magazine, March 1932