Even when he was 90 years old, Pablo Casals practiced the cello for four or five hours every day. Someone asked him why, at his age, he still worked so hard on the music and he responded, "Because I think I am making some progress." Lewis Smedes uses this illustration in to make the point that human beings must constantly keep at their attempts to be good.
According to the author of Forgive and Forget, being a good person is much more important than looking good, feeling good, or even making good. After a decade of moral disarray, individuals are once again thinking about virtue and ethics. Committees are being formed in organizations and business firms to guide wayward souls. Smedes thinks that character is the key not more codes for conduct. He offers a robust look at the qualities that enrich and deepen our character including gratitude, guts, simple integrity, self-control, discernment, and love.
Smedes counsels us to take responsibility for the stories of our lives: "We own our stories when we are willing to accept the parts we cannot control and then do whatever we can with the rest. We own our stories when we can admit to their ugly sides, their stupid and crazy sides. We own our stories, too, when we celebrate their beautiful aspects, their smart sides and their good sides. We own our stories when we keep holding on to them, even when we feel as if the story we are writing is a bore or gets so confusing we don't know what to make of it." He presents some helpful advice for those who are, in his words, "muddling their way through a mess of moral rubbish on the steep road to character." Smedes, as usual, brings the difficult subject of ethics down to earth with plenty of accessible illustrative material.