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Start the thing and you have the power

February 23, 2010

My very good friend Steve came around unexpectedly quite late the other night, and we ended up sitting in the kitchen talking for a long time – he is very good value, full of stories. He’s a fellow creative type, and we talked about how easy it is to get bogged down in all the stuff you have to do, and how you don’t do the things that are you, that you love doing – projects. For a little while now my lovely husband has been wanting to start making handmade glasses, but has found it almost impossible to squeeze another project in between work, kids, gourmet cooking and riding his bike.

— You have to make time, Steve said with fire, you have to! Even if it’s just 20 minutes every morning before work. There is this great saying: Start the thing and you have the power, and it’s true! If you start it, you’ll make time for it, and then it will happen.

He is absolutely right, it’s so true, and it’s important to remind yourself sometimes. Talking about it somehow re-inspired all three of us to make an effort; to get up a little earlier, stay up a little later. You start it and soon you start recognizing yourself too – the person you want to be – and you can’t believe that you’d forgotten to draw/make/write for so long.

And the quote I think he was referring to (at least the one it reminded me of), is Goethe*, and in a larger context W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951:

‘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, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’

* Steve is a wordpoet and an absolute legend at storytelling and free interpretation. I googled his quote just in case someone had actually said those exact words (which I didn’t think was the case) and since I couldn’t find anything that was even close I’m putting it down to it being his take on Goethe – in a way, I think Steve kind of says it better. Hats off to you, dude!

(And if you were wondering – the drawing up the top is a sea-slug (6.30 this morning!), got a nice little project in mind, inspired a-plenty by the stuff I wrote about in this post – also stay tuned for updates on some gourmet handmade glasses!)

And good luck to us!


Ok, update on this, March 1st:

I owe Steve (and all of you) an apology. Not only did I not believe him in his quoting, but I managed to quote him WRONG, silly me, as I learned yesterday when I saw him for a drink.

The saying goes “DO the thing and you will have the power”, which I have now googled and found should be attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Steve, however, got it from a senior architect who wrote it on the backside of his business card before handing it over to young Steve – aged 16 –  at the end of a one-day internship in his Architect Firm, somewhere in New Zealand back in the…eighties?

So sorry Steve, sorry anonymous architect, but THANK YOU to both of you! Excellent example of how the smallest of our actions can have big impacts, long after we’ve forgotten we ever did them.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2010 10:15 pm


  2. March 2, 2010 8:41 pm

    Love this. I will do it too, starting right now.

    BTW I just saw this TED-talk from JK Rowling, talking about how she failed with her career, got unemployed to everyone’s disappointment and then decided to finally scribble down those little stories that she’d been thinking of.

    If everything would have gone right with her plans, she might very likely have ended up working with something nice and common, never would have had the time or made the effort to start writing her books. You choose your paths yourself for sure, you just need to be brave and stubborn enough to choose the one that looks more exciting but less safe.

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