In the latter part of his career, Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate received a visit from a famous music critic who acclaimed him as a genius. . . . "A genius!" Sarasate said. "For thirty-seven years I've practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!
During the contest for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination, John F. Kennedy visited a mine in West Virginia. "Is it true you're the son of one of our wealthiest men?" asked one of the miners there. Kennedy admitted that this was true. "Is it true that you've never wanted for anything and had everything you wanted?" "I guess so," Kennedy replied. "Is it true you've never done a day's work with your hands all your life?" Kennedy nodded. "Well, let me tell you this," said the miner. "You haven't missed a thing.
A visitor to Niels Bohr's country cottage, noticing a horseshoe hanging on the wall, teased the eminent scientist about this ancient superstition. "Can it be that you, of all people, believe it will bring you luck?" "Of course not," replied Bohr, "but I understand it brings you luck whether you believe or not.
Among the sages whom [Ralph Waldo] Emerson sought out on his visit to Europe was the notoriously reticent and difficult Thomas Carlyle. He called on Carlyle one evening and was given a pipe, while his host took one himself. They sat together smoking in perfect silence until bedtime, and on parting shook hands most cordially, congratulating each other on the fruitful time they had enjoyed together.
When you're young, you always think you'll meet all sorts of wonderful people, that drifting apart and losing friends is natural. You don't worry, at first, about the friends you leave behind. But as you get older, it gets harder to build friendships. Too many defenses, too little opportunity. You get busy. And by the time you realize that you've lost the dearest best friend you've ever had, years have gone by and you're mature enough to be embarrassed by your attitude and, frankly, by your arrogance.