A rich man gave an interesting commission to a painter. His painting was to depict only a rooster, but as faithfully as possible. After the commission, the man waited several years without hearing from the painter. Finally, he became so tired of waiting that he went to see what was happening with the painting. He did not find a single line drawn. The painter made the merchant sit down, set to work, and within a quarter of an hour the painting was finished. An irreproachable masterpiece. The man was enthusiastic. When the time came to pay, he was shocked to hear the enormous sum the painter dared to demand for that “quarter of an hour” job, and he exploded with indignation. To restrain him, the painter, with a gesture, pointed to the pile of papers that were on the corner of the room, and which was the height of a man. On each sheet he had drawn a rooster, and said, “These pictures I have painted for three years, and only by such long exercise have I attained the skill to be able to do in so short a time and with such perfection a picture of the same subject. Now, then, I must collect the price of my three years working on your rooster.” The man agreed and paid the requested sum.
Something similar happens with the strengthening of the will. If we want our passions to one day come to obey our will in everything with ease and perfection, and to practice the good that we have projected in our understanding, we need a continuous exercise of years and years. With the patience with which the painter traced on the canvas the lines of the picture that was in his mind, we must work at strengthening and modeling our will.
We should not be discouraged by our faults or by the difficulties we encounter working on strengthening our will. For the painter, each new painting was easier than the last, and the last one took him only a quarter of an hour. Similarly, in the field of the education of our will, at the beginning it is always more difficult, but little by little it becomes easier. The more we conquer our passions the easier it becomes to control them.