The Courage of the Quest

“Life” by Henry Van Dyke

Let me but live my life from year to year,
With forward face and unreluctant soul;
Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal;
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
From what the future veils; but with a whole
And happy heart, that pays its toll
To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.

So let the way wind up the hill or down,
O’er rough or smooth, the journey will be joy:
Still seeking what I sought when but a boy,
New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,
My heart will keep the courage of the quest,
And hope the road’s last turn will be the best.

How faithful have you been to the courage of the quest? How willing have you been to let the journey be one of joy, day in and day out? Have you let your worries, fears, or wants cloud your vision and harden your heart to the glorious love and truth and life which courses through your veins and animates your soul?

These are questions that you must ask yourself if you seek to keep the courage of the quest and not succumb to reluctance or regret. The spirit of life within you is not buried beneath six feet of dirt at the end of life, for life never dies…it just releases that which was not yet ready to ascend. You do dig his own grave, however, when you look stubbornly back in regret or sheepishly forward in fear, despite the manifold opportunities at your doorstep to live a truly meaningful and fulfilling life. Dare to live lightly, vibrantly and thankfully with “forward face and unreluctant soul” in the full spirit of the courage of the quest. What really do you have to lose?

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Integrity with Truth

In all of life, what matters most is neither the mark you’ve made on world culture nor the assets you’ve accumulated by industry or ingenuity. Instead, that which truly counts in the living of life is your devotion to the spirit of love and your integrity with truth.

Integrity with truth is more than just simple honesty. Honesty is necessary, but not sufficient to knowing truth. Truth is the pattern through which love manifests. As such, truth is the body of love.

To know the truth you must be free of common misconceptions. For starters, there is no “ugly” truth. Facts may be ugly but truth is always beautiful. Secondly, there is no “sad” truth, in fact to the degree that truth is recognized and received, truth always brings with it the sense of peace, assurance and fulfillment. Thirdly, the design of truth never creates a sense of restriction. Truth – recognized and acknowledged – liberates. Always.

Here are a few more qualities I’ve discovered to be true of the truth:

  • Truth is eternal. Death and taxes are not truth, just ugly facts.
  • Truth is changeless. Its principles are not bound by time or space.
  • Truth makes no exceptions. Most scientific “constants” known to man are neither constant nor truth.

The chief aim of life is to be true to the spirit of love, but love cannot be known without truth. Most true love is lost on human beings because of an unwillingness to acknowledge and honor truth. The world is a much colder place (despite global warming) than it needs to be, but we can fix that! We can bring the warmth of love to the world, but it cannot manifest without integrity with truth.

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Be Vulnerable

“Be Vulnerable”, a Haiku by Gregg Hake

Sequestered from pain,
Heart also shielded from love—
Be vulnerable.

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Beaming

“Beaming”, a Haiku by Gregg Hake

Your humanity—
Crinkles like an old man’s smile
Beaming to the world

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Goals

Goal setting is an interesting topic for many reasons. It is one of those subjects that has a sweet spot in the middle, a golden mean, which allows for an optimal outcome. Aim too high and you will never reach your goals. Aim too low and you’ll never get very far in life. The art of finding the middle lies at the core of creative living.

Goals are likely the source of most of the tension or creative pressure in your life. Remembering that all change requires pressure, you see very quickly that goal setting relates to pressure management. A big goal with a short deadline inherently contains or requires more pressure to achieve than a small goal set far out into the future.

That said, not all goal-related pressures are natural or inherent. Procrastination, for example tends to compress the pressure wave into a very small part of what would typically be a longer, smoother cycle. Conversely, hastening or forcing the actualization of goals crams the pressure wave unnaturally into the beginning of a creative cycle. In either case the pressure wave is manipulated arbitrarily and without respect to the natural rhythm of the cycle.

Now goal setting is only half of the picture. Achieving goals requires much more than simply setting a goal, putting one’s heals up and waiting for the goal to be achieved. As Antoine de Saint Exupéry said: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” To achieve a goal you must also craft a plan. That plan must be realistic. It must take into account available resources, limitations, and opportunities. And typically there must be agreement with respect to it amongst all involved if it is to be accomplished.

Goals of any size can typically be broken down into their constituent parts, bite-sized morsels that make even the largest goals digestible by those with even the smallest stomach for change. I often find that the process of breaking them down allows me to plan for their execution more easily. In this regard it is useful to think of larger, more complex goals in terms of phases or stages. It is much easier to plan from the foundation up and the inside out than it is to try and plan the totality of a project all at once.

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Greatest Virtues

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human, are created, strengthened and maintained.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Family – true family – is the seedbed of virtue. From it nobility of character springs. Prudence, justice, temperance and courage ought to be touched upon at least daily in every family conversation, for the cultivation of these virtues is what prepares man for the daily tests of his mettle.

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