If we insist on being as sure as is conceivable… we must be content to creep along the ground, and never soar. – John Henry Newman
What does that mean?
To me, this is a quote about the necessity of action. It says if we procrastinate and wait until something is absolutely, 100% certain, beyond any doubt at all, that we will not accomplish much. We must, as the quote continues, be content to be stuck forever on the ground, never to soar in the heavens.
A slightly more earthy version of the quote might say something about having to stand among the turkeys instead of soaring with the eagles. But the quote, no matter how you think to word it, is a statement of fundamental truth. You must dare, you must risk, you must go beyond that which is certain, if you are to achieve anything worthwhile or significant.
Why is daring important?
A daring life, how swash-buckley does that sound? Isn’t that what pirates and romantic bandits do? Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel live a daring life. Why should you? Well, fictional heroes live an exceptional life, by definition. However, you needn’t lead the opposite of their lives. Part of what gives life flavor is a little risk now and then. While we will all draw the line between a fun risk and a foolish risk at different places, it’s worth taking a chance every once in a while.
What fun would life be if everything was by-the-book? There are as many characters in fiction that match this description. Lonely librarians, accountants, and so many others lead dull, boring, predictable lives (Bat Girl aside). While nearly all of our lives fall somewhere between dull and daring, where are you most comfortable? When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone?
Where can I apply this in my life?
I’ve been trying to push my comfort zone on at least an annual basis. While blogging might not sound like a daring pursuit to you, I’m actually not all that fond of writing. The thought of doing about 800 words a day for nearly a year now was well beyond my expectations (I expected to be down to once a week long before a year was out).
As I have mentioned before, I learned how to ride a motorcycle, and then how to teach others to ride and manage the risks of riding. I’ve thrown myself out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft. I’ve learned a martial art. I’ve learned the basics of free-climbing at a local indoor rock climbing establishment. I try to soar every once in a while. How about you?
What is your tolerance for risk? How daring are you willing to be? The answer will be different for each of us. Even for any one person, skydiving could be terrifying, but riding a motorcycle in rush hour traffic doesn’t bother them at all (despite the differences in injuries and fatalities).
What have you always wanted to do, or thought about doing at one time, but dismissed because it was too risky? Grab some paper and write them down. Ride in a rodeo? Perhaps just riding a horse is a bit too daring for your taste? Swim with the sharks (cage optional)? Perhaps just swimming in the ocean is a bit too daring for your taste? Replace the entire front suspension of your car (in your driveway is optional)? Perhaps just changing your own oil is a bit too daring for your taste?
For me, the biggest snag has always been the unknown. I don’t know if I would ever have gone skydiving if it wasn’t with a trusted friend and former military jump master at my side. Next to each of your risky items, put down what you think you would need to find out about the activity in order to help you feel better about being daring. If you know someone you could use as a resource, for information or assistance in this daring endeavor, write their name down as well.
Pick one activity that stands out to you. It might be the least risky, the one that sounds like the most fun, or the least expensive item on the list, but pick one for starters. For each of the of the ‘knowledge gap’ issues you had, write down where you could get the information. Is it online? Almost everything is these days. Where else could you get the info? And who can you talk to who has done it before and lived to tell the tale?
Now all you have to do is get busy. Select one of the items on your information list and hunt it down. Then chase down the next bit of knowledge, and then the next. While you never will get to being ‘as sure as is conceivable,’ I hope you can quickly get close enough to take a leap of faith, and soar with the eagles.
From: Twitter, @Iceburner
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnhenryn387594.html
Photo by AMagill
Happy Birthday to John Henry Newman, born on 21 February 1801.