They are fools that think that wealth or women or strong drink or even
drugs can buy the most in effort out of the soul of a man. These things offer
pale pleasures compared to that which is greatest of them all, that task which
demands from him more than his utmost strength, that absorbs him, bone and
sinew and brain and hope and fear and dreams -- and still calls for more.
They are fools that think otherwise. No great effort was ever bought.
No painting, no music, no poem, no cathedral in stone, no church, no state was
ever raised into being for payment of any kind. No parthenon, no Thermopylae
was ever built or fought for pay or glory; no Bukhara sacked, or China ground
beneath Mongol heel, for loot or power alone. The payment for doing these
things was itself the doing of them.
To wield oneself -- to use oneself as a tool in one's own hand -- and
so to make or break that which no one else can build or ruin -- THAT is the
greatest pleasure known to man! To one who has felt the chisel in his hand
and set free the angel prisoned in the marble block, or to one who has felt
sword in hand and set homeless the soul that a moment before lived in the body
of his mortal enemy -- to those both come alike the taste of that rare food
spread only for demons or for gods."
- -- Gordon R. Dickson, "Soldier Ask Not"