Sometimes remembering the outstanding actions or words of another is the best way to reconnect both heart and mind to the inexhaustible well of inner strength. So doing allows you to put matters into perspective, to gain either altitude or distance from the challenge you face or the problem with which you are wrestling.
William George Jordan provided one such example in his meditations on courage and I am honored and delighted to share it with you today:
Courage is no gaily-decked joyous craft to skim the summer seas when waves are sun-warmed; it is the sturdy life-boat that rides the angry waters when skies are dark. The lives of some men are a constant struggle, hopeless but for their courage. For fourteen years Robert Louis Stevenson had not a day’s health. When the use of his right hand failed him, his left hand assumed the burden of writing; when he could not use either hand to hold the pen, he dictated; when he could not speak, he still dictated, but by means of the deaf and dumb alphabet. His fine spirit defied the limitations of the body; there was no moan, no twinge of pain, no voice of protest, no obtrusion of self crept into the sunlit pages of his prose or verse. He gave the world his sweetness and his strength, the perfume from the crushed flowers of his struggle and sorrow, the honey of his triumph, not the sting of his mighty effort.
When you are down, unsure of yourself, wondering if you have what it takes to get the job done, remember this story.
You can overcome. More importantly, your victory will inspire others to find the courage to greet the world with renewed vigor.
Before you go, here’s a parting gift:
“To Dr. Hake” by Robert Louis Stevenson
In the beloved hour that ushers day,
In the pure dew, under the breaking grey,
One bird, ere yet the woodland quires awake,
With brief reveille summons all the brake:
Chirp, chirp, it goes; nor waits and answer long;
And that small signal fills the grove with song.
Thus on my pipe I breathed a strain or two;
It was scarce music, but ‘twas all I knew.
It was not music, for I lacked the art,
Yet what but frozen music filled my heart?
Chirp, chirp, I went on, nor hoped a nobler strain;
But heaven decreed I should not pipe in vain,
For, lo! not far from there, in secret dale,
All silent, sat an ancient nightingale.
My sparrow notes he heard; thereat awoke;
And with a tide of song his silence broke.