"Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth" (Prov. 17:24).
We all know something of the attraction of distance, the romance of the unknown; and we are inclined to minimise present opportunities by dreaming about some larger sphere where we would do great things. Not here, but somewhere in the ends of the earth, is the occasion we need to draw out our unsuspected powers. The first duty is the duty near at hand; but that is too small for the fool whose eyes are in the ends of the earth. The distant, the far-away affects imagination easily; it can soar and fly without breaking wings against hard facts. Some think that it is because they are of superior nature, of a finer texture of imagination, that they take no interest in the life around them, but divert themselves with vain dreams, building castles in the air, turning ever towards the ends of the earth for their high thoughts and noble aspirations. But really, such an imagination is of the commonest and lowest type.
It is lack of imagination to be unable to enter with insight and sympathy into the common life around, to see only the commonplace in what is common, to see none of the romance and pathos and heroism of lowly life. Even from the point of view of art that is the triumph of imagination, to throw a glory round the usual and interpret the common in loving sympathy. Any one can imagine thrilling adventures in China or Peru or in the islands of the sea, but few can show us the treasures of heart and soul in the common life ungilded by the halo of romance. Truly wisdom is before the face of him that hath understanding, but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.