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“I once believed in some notion of a pure ambition, which I defined as an ambition for the work rather than oneself. But now…

No, all ambition has the reek of disease about it, the relentless smell of the self — except for that terrible, blissful feeling at the heart of creation of itself, when all thought of your name is obliterated and all you want is the poem, to be the means wherein something of reality, perhaps even something of eternity, realizes itself. That is noble ambition. But all that comes after — the need for approval, publication, self-promotion — isn’t this what usually goes under the name ‘ambition’? The effort is to make ourselves more real to ourselves, to feel that we have selves, though the deepest moments of creation tell us that, in some fundamental way, we don’t. (Souls are what those moments reveal, which are both inside and outside, both us and other.) So long as your ambition is to stamp your existence upon existence, your nature on nature, then your ambition is corrupt and you are pursuing a ghost.”


From Christian Wiman’s collection My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer