Confident Steps – Finding the Foundation

Walden by Henry David Thoreau, influential ear...

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In preparing to write this post, I wanted to get the proper quote and attribution for:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”

It turns out it is from Henry David Thoreau, but that is not the original quote at all. That learns me! Thanks to Wikiquote, the original quote is not as easily inked on coffee mugs and journal covers, but it has lots of meaty philosophy to bite our canines into. Here it is:

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

I clearly need to read Walden, the source of this quote, for myself and not rely on pop culture to teach me these things. 😉

This is an interesting start to a post that was to be devoted to confidence. Stepping into a full life, unhampered by compulsive approval seeking is something that I thought I had mastered well enough to provide some advice. Gotta love a few reality checks along the way! So the absolute truth is that I will never stop learning and having new experiences, meaning I will never be perfect. But I also know that sitting on the sidelines waiting to measure up to some lofty, saint-like standard is not helpful either. How often do we put our dreams on pause until we have enough time, money or approval?

Thoreau wisely offers us the advice to not destroy our high hopes, our “castles in the air”, but to bring these dreams to life by building their foundations. We must live the life of our dreams, because it is the only one we have got. Our greatest dreams and great solutions to great problems need to be brought into the world. Sitting back and waiting for someone else to do it is not going to get us anywhere. Within each of us is a unique talent and ability, the world is waiting for those gifts to be shared.

So… Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… Get on your way.

~ Dr. Suess

It is this simple: Live your juicy, delicious life; dream your beautiful, curly dreams; and watch your success unfold.



US Forest Service photo of Lodgepole Pines in ...

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Memories are precious things. What makes us  remember certain times and not others? I spent a lot of time camping as a kid, but I still remember one particular tree. It was a pine tree. I put my hand on the bark and thought, “I want to do this for a living”. I wanted to be outside and discover the marvels of nature. It was a visceral memory and the details of it are still crisp in my mind.

Think back to when you were eight or nine. What was it that you really loved to do? How did you translate that into a career or purposeful pastime? I took that feeling of wanting to be outside in nature and turned it into a career in environmental science. I am thankful for the things I have learned in this career, but now I am reinterpreting my childhood dream.

As a kid I felt the power of nature to transform, to heal, to smooth out the rough edges. I was fascinated by the diversity of life and I still am. I now have a dream of sharing that restorative experience with others. My intent is to open a retreat centre where people can go to heal, to create, to nourish their inner life. At this point I have no idea how that will happen. So tomorrow I will return to my day job, and keep moving forward, gathering information and experience along the way.

Could it be that the most courageous thing to do is to stay true to our dreams? To continue on when the path forward is not clear? Yes. I think it is.

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