Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Fortune Often Near Us
    I do not know who it was that first said, "Fortune
knocks once at every man's door," but I know
he was wrong in his implied meaning, that the
knock came only once in each lifetime.
    Fortune is often near us, if we only knew her
face.  She appears in as many and changing guises
as a lady of fashion, and we do not recognize her
many times.  We pass her by with averted gaze,
or indifferent air, or scowling glances, or looks of
    That is our fault, not hers.  It is because we lack
insight, and because we are not looking for the
good dame.
    When a woman is looking for her lover, she sees
some one who resembles him at every street corner.
He is so constantly and persistently in her mind
that every passer-by takes on his semblance.
    And by and by he comes.
    If we are fully expectant and positive, Fortune
will come to us, and even in trouble, disappointment
and loss, we will see a semblance of her face,
a sign of her coming.
    Do not for one instant allow yourself to believe
that she has passed you by.  The road she travels
is an endless circle.  She reappears again and again
to the watchful and observant eye.
    If she has passed your door to-day and knocked
while you were sleeping, and you awoke to see her
retreating form down the roadway, do not despair
and say the opportunity of your life has gone.
    Remember, it is only one opportunity.  Set your-
self about your business, keep busy, hopeful and
expectant, and look for the return trip of Fortune.
do not expect to see her in the same gown and
bonnet.  She loves new apparel.  She is a woman,
and fond of new effects.
    See to it that she does not slip by you again unob-
served.  But, even if she passes a second time, you
need not despair.  She is immortal, and never dies.
    But you are mortal, and you need to enjoy her
benefits while you have the powers of enjoyment
left in your brain and body.  There is another
time-worn idea you want to toss in your mental
    In my early youth I remember reading some-
where that unless a man had achieved something at
the age of thirty, he never would make a place for
himself in the world of men.  He who was a failure
after three decades would be a failure to the end.
I have heard men of thirty quote this saying with
despondency and self-contempt in voice and face.  It
has discouraged more minds than it ever stimulated.
Observation has taught me the absolute fallacy of
the idea.
    There have been instances of great men who
achieved nothing but a succession of failures until
after the age of forty, and even fifty.
    We must remember that men, not God, divided
time into years.  Some men are younger at fifty,
in brain and heart and body, than others at twenty-
five.  Some natures, like some trees, grow and
develop slowly.
    It is wise for every youth to make noble and
persistent efforts to attain some measure of success
before thirty.  It will enable him to enjoy a restful
middle life.  But if he fails, through his own errors
or the unavoidable occurrences of fate, let him by no
means imagine he is to be a permanent failure.
"Fifty is the youth of old age."  Between fifty and
eighty there are thirty good years for work and suc-
ess and happiness.

Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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