Gather and transform
“The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.” — Francis Bacon
I had to think about this quote for awhile to understand its full implications, but I concluded that Bacon had drawn an interesting parallel to human tendencies. Some of us prefer action to thought, staying busy at various tasks with little introspection. Others of us enjoy thinking more than we enjoy doing, and turn inward more than we reach outward.
Maybe the ideal balance lies somewhere in between. If we consider the wisdom and accomplishments of others as inspiration and guidance, then complement our learning with our own unique set of experiences and perspectives, we can create new gifts to the world that can come only from us. If we strive to think neither too little nor too much of ourselves, to cultivate humility without timidity and confidence without arrogance, we will be free to make the best use of our talents; to gather from the abundance around us and transform what we have been given into our own singular contribution.