"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
This quote has been with me as I spend my early mornings dwelling with friends and teachers who have passed on, people who have had a great impact on my life.
At some point, I will write more about these people directly, but for now there are brief hooks that capture elements of what lives in me as I re-member these people so important to me.
As I sat this morning, the quote rose to the surface of my consciousness. I wanted to trace it, find out where it came from. It is most often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and his writing "Faust: Part One" in the early 19th century. It would appear that Goethe never actually wrote this. In 1835, an Irish poet named John Anster, made his own poetic interpretation, a poet's search for the spirit within the work of the poet, Goethe:
"Strong drink is what we want to gull the people, A hearty, brisk, and animating tipple; Come, come, no more delay, no more excuses, The stuff we ask you for, at once produce us. Lose this day loitering—’twill be the same story To-morrow–and the next more dilatory; Then indecision brings its own delays, And days are lost lamenting o’er lost days. Are you in earnest? seize this very minute– What you can do, or dream you can, begin it, Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it, Only engage, and then the mind grows heated— Begin it, and the work will be completed!
The quote is relevant in my life, for at least a couple of reasons.
One, it brings me face to face with myself and the nature of choices that I make each day, "come, come, no more delay, no more excuses...then indecision brings its own delays..." I can easily look at my life as a long chain of delay and excuses, but the quote loses its value if I stay there.
The value for me in the quote is the reminder that there is choice available in each moment. Age has brought me to a place of greater self-compassion, and recognition that there are always reasons for the choices we make, reasons why we don't believe, reasons why we protect ourselves, but on any given day choices are available, and if I am aware and conscious I can move past the "gull" and deception.
Two, the vision of choice making as possessing, "genius, power, and magic", that can activate forces and movement from beyond the realm of the decision maker, farther out in the universe.
William Hutchison Murray in “The Scottish Himalayan Expedition” (1951) says,
"Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way."
I am all too familiar with the hesitancy of which he speaks. It has lived in me throughout my life. But I am also so grateful for my relationship with my dear friend, and teacher, Marsha Forest, who I met almost 40 years ago, and who passed on far too early more than 20 years ago.
While sitting with her, re-membering her in my life, in my early morning writing, my consciousness of that which lives within me is raised. Even all these years later, it is my lived experience with Marsha, and her embodiment of Anster/Goethe's "boldness", that surfaces, and "re-minds" me of the choices that are present in each of my days, and the opportunity to step into my own version of that boldness.