This posting's title is that of the third chapter of *"Hannibal and Me"*, which I'm currently reading, and which I'd mentioned in my posting of *February 2nd*. It (the third chapter of "Hannibal and Me") could also have been titled "Do You Know What You Want To Do In Your Life?", but it would have been too long.
This third chapter dwells on Hannibal Barca (of course), Meriwether Lewis, Harry Truman and Ludwig Erhard. The first two (Hannibal Barca and Meriwether Lewis) knew, when young, what they wanted to become in life. The latter two (Harry Truman and Ludwig Erhard) didn't.
Hannibal and Lewis were "heroes on a quest", and proactive. They achieved greatness. Truman and Erhard were "wanderers", and reactive. They had greatness thrust upon them. Being myself a "wanderer" and reactive (albeit sans even a soupcon of greatness being thrust upon me), I find Hannibal and Lewis less appealing than Truman and Erhard, who are therefore the ones this posting will talk about.
Having little more than a high school education - and not much of a one at that - but being a lifelong reader of books on a wide variety of subjects above my station, I was gratified to learn that Harry Truman also had little more than a high school education - although almost certainly a much better high school education than mine - and was also a lifelong reader of books on a wide variety of subjects above his station. He was also an accomplished piano player of classical music.
Truman must therefore have felt himself out of place among the men he would have hobnobbed with in the jobs he had as a timekeeper on the Santa Fe Railroad, as a clerk in various places, as a mailroom worker in a newspaper, and as a worker on his father's farm.
Perhaps inwardly he felt destined for greater things, and so decided to acquire an educated mind which would be his weapon in combatting adversaries in a hostile world. No doubt his educated mind gave him the breadth of vision that enabled him, as President, to re-shape the world in the immediate post-war years.
Since I'm an autodidact as Truman was, he is an historical figure I can identify with. While I, too, didn't know what I wanted to become in life, I knew what I didn't want to become, which was the sort of man I frequently came across when growing up, and came across in the places I worked after leaving school.
This was the man, an Organisation Man, who talked only shoptalk about his boring job, and told boring anecdotes he'd been told by others, and bored everyone with his unfunny many-times-recyled jokes. His mind was a mere roomful of old echoes. When young, I looked at this sort of man and said to myself that unless I educated myself, I would become him.
Although I probably did become him, it wasn't for lack of trying not to.
That's enough for today. I see I didn't get to Ludwig Erhard. I'll dwell on him in another posting............