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Today’s intention is:
We can always pivot, stop or turn around.
But we can't do any of those things if we don't begin.
Above all else, begin.
A quest to Chapman
Pulling into a public parking lot off Orange Street, I look around for a spot. My tea cools from sippable to drinkable. I park facing the back of Pizza Press, gulp my tea, and step out of my Jeep.
It’s Saturday morning, and I drove to Chapman University in Orange to explore. Google Maps shows Leatherby Libraries as a half-mile walk. I grab my bag and sunglasses then head north.
I pass a church, a few local shops, and several university homes. The houses have a timeless look to them. They’re withered but clean. Lawns are freshly cut to a few inches, and the sidewalks swept. I feel like a young student walking with my backpack double-strapped. I continue the journey north wide-eyed and curious.
Climbing the steps in front of Leatherby, I see a sign that reads, “Library is closed to the public.” I check the door and sure enough, it’s locked.
A subtle breeze blows the smell of jasmine across my face. I follow the scent around Leatherby’s entrance. The gates to Chapman Stadium appear on my left while an art exhibit calls to me on my right. The exhibit reaches twelve feet high, featuring a red metal band shaped into a sporadic, seemingly endless loop.
I kneel to read the plaque fastened to the base of the exhibit. It reads:
“Will you seize and grasp my flickering flame? Not because I implore you; not because your family, your friends, your ambitions implore you; but seek knowledge and truth for its own sake. You may find, as I have found, there is no truth… only the quest.”
- Quentin de Young ‘45, Emeritus Professor of Psychology.
I snap a picture and head to a bench nearby.
Quentin’s words settle into my mind. I think about what drew me out here.
What compelled me to make the trip?
Was it my family, friends, or my ambitions?
Or was it knowledge and truth?
I’m not sure it’s any of those things. For me,
It just feels right.
Still on my bench, I read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. As Steven shares his thoughts on Resistance, the Muse, and their relationship to the Professional, I lean back to reflect on the moment.
I’m here because I began.
I’m here because I turned a feeling into a few steps forward.
And whether it’s a trip to a nearby college campus or a quest for truth, taking a start matters more than what implores us to consider it.
If life is an endless pursuit, I’m less interested in what drives us and more interested in getting on the road.
Too often, we sit idle and dwell on “the why” of our quests.
Are the stakes high enough? We wonder.
Is the payoff big enough? We ponder.
Forget all that.
If it feels right, go.
Your motivations will change. Your purpose will codify. Your why will grow.
In other words, your quest will inform your reason for taking it.
What quests do you want to take?
What just feels right, right now?
Lean into that feeling. Follow it.
You gotta start somewhere.
So start. Now.
Lessons from nature
Most Fridays I grab coffee with my friend, John Reed.
After last week’s meetup, he sent me the video below along with a message:
Nature is smarter than we are. There are lessons in this video.
After my first watch, I thought of a few questions.
Does the sunflower know what lies ahead?
Does it spend time thinking about that final bloom of color?
Or does it simply reach for the next ray of sun each day?
From what I can tell, it uses all of its energy to get to its next stage of growth.
It’s not dwelling on the day its flower will emerge. It’s focused on sprouting the next leaf or stem.
And it’s in no hurry, either.
One moment at a time, it builds itself up toward the sky.
Then, when timing is just right, it reveals itself to the world.
Its authentic Self.
Let’s do as John suggests and learn from nature.
Today, build a stem. Maybe a leaf or two.
Our days to bloom will come soon enough.
We do not begin alone
The War of Art mesmerizes me. Everything by Steven Pressfield does. I’m going back for a third read this weekend.
Near the end of the book, Steven quotes the visionary poet, William Blake:
Eternity is in love with the creations of time.
He explains Blake’s words to mean that beings from a higher plane of existence (or Gods) “take joy in what we timebound beings can bring forth into physical existence in our limited material sphere.”
In other words, Steven reasons we have help. We do not begin alone.
When we conceive an enterprise and commit to it in the face of our fears, something wonderful happens. A crack appears in the membrane. Like the first craze when a chick pecks at the inside of its shell. Angel midwives congregate around us; they assist as we give birth to ourselves, to that person we were born to be, to the one whose destiny was encoded in our soul, our daimon, our genius.
When we make a beginning, we get out of our own way and allow the angels to come in and do their job. They can speak to us now and it makes them happy. It makes God happy. Eternity, as Blake might have told us, has opened a portal into time.
And we’re it.
Today is as good a day as any.
Follow a feeling. Follow nature, Steven’s words or William Blake’s.
Whatever it takes, take your beginning.
Until next time,
Don’t wait. Start small. Learn as you go.