Between the preparation and the work,
the apprenticeship and the actual dealing with a task or an art,
there comes, in the experience of many young men,
a period of uncertainty and wandering which is often misunderstood and counted as time wasted,
when it is, in fact, a period rich in full and free development.
It is as natural for ardent and courageous youth to wish to know what is in life,
what it means, and what it holds for its children,
as for a child to reach for and search the things that surround and attract it.
Behind every real worker in the world is a real man,
and a man has a right to know the conditions under which he must live,
and the choices of knowledge, power, and activity which are offered him.
In the education of many men and women, therefore, there comes the year of wandering;
the experience of traveling from knowledge to knowledge and from occupation to occupation.
The forces which go to the making of a powerful man can rarely be adjusted and blended
without some disturbance of relations and conditions.
This disturbance is sometimes injurious,
because it affects the moral foundations upon which character rests;
and for this reason the significance of the experience in its relation to development
ought to be sympathetically studied.
The birth of the imagination and of the passions, the perception of the richness of life,
and the consciousness of the possession of the power to master and use that wealth,
create a critical moment in the history of youth,
—a moment richer in possibilities of all kinds than comes at any later period.
Agitation and ferment of soul are inevitable in that wonderful moment.
There are times when agitation is as normal as is self-control at other and less critical times.
The year of wandering is not a manifestation of aimlessness, but of aspiration,
and that in its ferment and uncertainty youth is often guided to
and finally prepared for its task.