Here’s another poem by Edgar A. Guest to remind us about our lives. Yes, it’s important to know who we are and to stay true to who we are, but it’s also very important to LIVE life–not to be put on a shelf and wait until everything’s perfect.
Get out there and live your life!
Life is a gift to be used every day, Not to be smothered and hidden away; It isn’t a thing to be stored in the chest Where you gather your keepsakes and treasure your best; It isn’t a joy to be sipped now and then And promptly put back in a dark place again.
Life is a gift that the humblest may boast of And one that the humblest may well make the most of. Get out and live it each hour of the day, Wear it and use it as much as you may; Don’t keep it in niches and corners and grooves, You’ll find that in service its beauty improves.
Usually, it isn’t the big challenges or the or the heartbreaking setbacks that stop us in our tracks. Oftentimes it’s the small simple things that stop us. There’s a 4-letter that stops us even before we realize what’s happened. It’s the word ‘can’t’.
Tell me what you think of the following poem about the damage the word ‘can’t’ does in our lives. The poem also gives us the antidote to the word ‘can’t’.
Can’t is the worst word that’s written or spoken; Doing more harm here than slander and lies; On it is many a strong spirit broken, And with it many a good purpose dies. It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning And robs us of courage we need through the day: It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.
Can’t is the father of feeble endeavor, The parent of terror and half-hearted work; It weakens the efforts of artisans clever, And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk. It poisons the soul of the man with a vision, It stifles in infancy many a plan; It greets honest toiling with open derision And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.
Can’t is a word none should speak without blushing; To utter it should be a symbol of shame; Ambition and courage it daily is crushing; It blights a man’s purpose and shortens his aim. Despise it with all of your hatred of error; Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain; Arm against it as a creature of terror, And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.
Can’t is the word that is foe to ambition, An enemy ambushed to shatter your will; Its prey is forever the man with a mission And bows but to courage and patience and skill. Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying, For once it is welcomed ’twill break any man; Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying And answer this demon by saying: “I can.”
In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, please be guided by his thoughts:
There comes a time when silence is betrayal…. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.
I have decided to stick to love…. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he sands at times of challenge and controversy.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less apt to hate our enemies.
These quotes remind us that in order to be fully who we are, we must include honor, integrity, and doing the right thing. This doesn’t mean we have to take to the streets carrying placards and shouting slogans. It does mean, though, that we acknowledge all others as fellow travelers and treat them gently, giving them the benefit of the doubt. In this small, quiet way, we can stop silence, derail hate, and turn injustice into loving-kindness.
I guarantee you that your idea of a soul-prospering life is different than anyone else’s so don’t go freaking out over it and thinking that there’s something wrong with you. In fact, it’s a VERY excellent thing if your imaginings about what your soul-prospering life is turns out to be unique to you–different than anyone else’s!
Even if the same things matter to you and your group of friends, each of you will approach the things in a slightly different manner and different aspects of the things will have greater importance to one person than to another. This is a good thing! There are so many different people “out there” eager for help and insights and inspirations that one size, one message, does not fit all! We need the message to be said in many different ways, which increases the chance of more people “getting it”.
Go after your soul-prospering life–be proud of it! Be glad that one size does NOT fit all!
Your motivating factor, your compelling reason ‘why’ regarding the particular brand of soul-prospering life you want to craft, is essential to energizing you through the tough times.
Here are some examples:
Whys that grow organically out of difficult personal experiences:
Enduring grueling challenges such as poverty and abuse. These experiences have the ability to maim and crush people, but they can also be the furnace that forges a spirit that’s stronger than steel or titanium.
Whys that have their roots in observations of others’ suffering:
While you may not have suffered a particular hardship, it nonetheless affects you deeply whether you observe it in your personal life or your professional life. For instance doctors, lawyers, and other professionals that donate their time and expertise to people who can’t afford their services yet they desperately need them.
Whys that come from a “higher calling”:
These kind of ‘whys’ are easy to see in world-class athletes. They are obsessed with excelling in their particular sport but yet they may not be able to fully articulate the reason why. This type of ‘why’ is not limited to athletes. I know of a man who is a drummer. He is totally consumed with rhythms–he can’t stop himself from tapping out a beat! He makes his living picking up different gigs as well as teaching drumming, although making a living at it isn’t a requirement of a compelling ‘why’. I have another friend who is an avid knitter. She always has a project at hand and is constantly on the lookout for patterns, yarns, and the like, yet she has never made so much as a penny from her knitting.
Don’t worry if you can’t fully articulate your ‘why’ to anyone else. You don’t need to say it to anyone. Your ‘why’ is not a justification or something that causes someone else to give you permission to go for your soul-prospering life.
Your compelling ‘why’ is only for YOUR benefit.
NOTICE THAT NONE OF THESE ‘WHYS’ HAVE THEIR ROOTS IN MAKING MONEY.
Money and recognition may come as a by product of the ‘whys’ but that is not at all the reason for the ‘why’
Keep working with your ‘why’ so that its roots are deep within you. You need it to intensify, which is what it does when it goes to the core of you. It may take a little time for this to happen, but keep working with it and it’ll happen!