Alchemy of Calmness I

In my recent post, You are an Alchemist, I had an unusual sensing of the presence of something that was formless, shapeless, but not void. I’ve had the feeling before, often in relation to the daily blog posts I write, and although I find myself fumbling for words to describe it, the feeling is akin to standing on railroad tracks at the mouth of a dark tunnel, seeing a faint light and hearing an increasingly powerful rumbling coming my way. It is an exciting, at times unsettling, yet welcome feeling.

The feeling might gestate for minutes, hours or days, but I’ve learned over time not to let my heart be troubled by the presence of these voiceless ghosts. Sooner or later, they make themselves known. My part is not to force these yet unnamed and naked ideas into the light of day, but instead my responsibility is to provide the “sea of glass  mingled with fire” by virtue of a calm heart and a sound mind through which the fitting thought, word or deed can take visible, tangible form in my expression.

When the time is right, they burst forth as naturally and magically as the blooms in springtime. Neither forced, nor coaxed, but gracefully, perfectly and in season.

Back to the feeling I’ve had for several days now. This morning I came across an author whose work until now had been unknown to me. His name is William George Jordan. He wrote extensively, was a well-respected editor who contributed significantly to the political landscape during his lifetime. Well, my friends, the train finally arrived and written upon the engine whose light had been approaching gradually yet surely over the last few days was the title of one of his books, “The Majesty of Calmness.”

My intention is to provide you with sequential excerpts from this exceptional book over the next few days, for I feel his paragraphs are so dense with instruction that to lay it all out in one post would be like piling a five course meal onto one plate and serving it without sufficient time for appreciation and digestion.

Bon appétit!

The Majesty of Calmness

Calmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-centred, self-reliant, and self-controlled. Calmness is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious power,–ready to be focused in an instant to meet any crisis.

The Sphinx is not a true type of calmness,–petrifaction is not calmness; it is death, the silencing of all the energies; while no one lives his life more fully, more intensely and more consciously than the man who is calm.

The Fatalist is not calm. He is the coward slave of his environment, hopelessly surrendering to his present condition, recklessly indifferent to his future. He accepts his life as a rudderless ship, drifting on the ocean of time. He has no compass, no chart, no known port to which he is sailing. His self-confessed inferiority to all nature is shown in his existence of constant surrender. It is not,–calmness.

The man who is calm has his course in life clearly marked on his chart. His hand is ever on the helm. Storm, fog, night, tempest, danger, hidden reefs,–he is ever prepared and ready for them. He is made calm and serene by the realization that in these crises of his voyage he needs a clear mind and a cool head; that he has naught to do but to do each day the best he can by the light he has; that he will never flinch nor falter for a moment; that, though he may have to tack and leave his course for a time, he will never drift, he will get back into the true channel, he will keep ever headed toward his harbor. When he will reach it, how he will reach it, matters not to him. He rests in calmness, knowing he has done his best. If his best seem to be overthrown or overruled, then he must still bow his head,–in calmness. To no man is permitted to know the future of his life, the finality. God commits to man ever only new beginnings, new wisdom, and new days to use the best of his knowledge.

7 thoughts on “Alchemy of Calmness I

  1. Lady Leo

    I agree it is the rarest of qualities but this piece today has made it far more comprehensible to me. His description of the sphinx is what I call “shut down”, and can often be confused with calmness. The fatalist seems a description of a person with no understanding of their purpose. Calmness can be seen as the state that creates the luminosity to become aware of options that exist in the moment; part of the mechanism humans have to create.
    I think his ideas support the value of having a crystal clear vision of our individual purpose.

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  2. Brigitte

    Calmn is a rarity and this was such a beautiful description of the alchemy of calm and its significance to our lives and others.

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  3. DeeDee

    This line really stood out: “…that he has naught to do but to do each day the best he can by the light he has…” I enjoyed reading the entire excerpt. It puts things into a great perspective!

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  4. Colin

    Interestingly enough, this mirrors something that I have been thinking about for the past day or so. I have been pondering the things that take you from a beginning point to the final goal. What kinds of things give you the ability to refresh your obligations? What is the motivation that allows you to organize the little things every day so that the final outcome is related to the starting point? The answer is vision. With a clear vision, every action taken can be analyzed, measured, and adjusted to meet an overarching goal. What Jordan is getting at is that without calmness, you have no vision. The reason a person can keep their calmess no matter what is because they have a need to get somewhere, otherwise why, in the example of the text, would drifting be any different than sailing from points a to b? Thanks for the introduction to an exciting topic!

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