07.14.14 The Genius, Power and Magic of Boldness

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. 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 favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

-William Hutchinson Murray (1913-1996), from his 1951 book entitled The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

I've spent a lot of time on my father's laptop recently, compelled to piece together the bits of ideas, writings and journals he kept there with the story of the man I knew. I found a document with this quote saved in it, which in many ways captured what I admired most about my father. In a world where many of us doubt, hesitate and grow stagnant in our lives, he never wasted a moment in taking necessary leaps of faith.

For the first time in my life I have felt death's real presence. Witnessing my father's sudden passing has made me realize that we cannot plan our lives according to some assumed lifespan. We cannot waste precious time believing we are trapped in certain situations, longing for lives that could have been. Certainly, we have responsibilities, but too often we create false masters and become slaves with invisible shackles, heavy with our own delusions of the difficulties involved in breaking free. My father took bold steps in making his way from carpenter to non-profit founder, a journey that profoundly touched hundreds, if not thousands of people along the way. In this, he was able to do more in 60 years than some do in many lifetimes. I am grateful to have his example--I hope to keep it with me so that when death comes for me I can say, "I did not hold myself back, I blossomed with all the splendor I could muster." That is the only way anyone can be prepared to die, because it will always seem to come too soon.

We all struggle with the idea of destiny and wrestle with how to live best to fulfill some notion of a life's purpose. My father was fond of Howard Thurman's idea of how to navigate the existential path, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." When you think of life in these terms it seems simple. A question of what challenges you, energizes your spirit, causes you to slip into the natural track of what your being was meant to do, what brings you joy and in turn has some lasting effect on the world and others.

There are plenty of things I enjoy doing, but I know that music does something different. At times while playing, I experience a transcendence that in its moment is the closest I get to oneness. I feel an overwhelming joy in being struck with the insight of writing a new song. I become connected with other people in ways that I don't imagine I could achieve doing anything else.  I have labored for over a decade to be better in what I do, to be more honest and to make a career out of something that for me holds so much gravity, such aching necessity. In some ways, death's visit has thrown my world into new perspective. In other ways, things remain the same. It feels strange to start a new journey with the same destination I've had for many years. And maybe the destination will change. I can't be sure. But I am most certain that whatever it is it has to be now, the way my father would have done it, fully committed, ready for possible failure but eager to fly.

The EP's album cover goes out to you, Dad.

With love, Lisa.