“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always in effectiveness. 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 otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour 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, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Johan Wolfgang Van Goethe.
I stumbled across this quote in a book of my brother’s, shortly after breaking up with my then boyfriend, whilst I was in my final year at University. It had a power for me then so I wrote it down. Today I have been unpacking the last of my boxes and in a typical act of Pottsy procrastination, whereby I have been compelled to look at every item in detail rather than simply putting things away, I found the book and found the quote.
A large part of my fear of the reaper philosophy has been fuelled by the realisation that sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. In the past, when considering a new idea, if I couldn’t see the solution to every obstacle I thought of I used this to justify not even trying. Since I became conscious that my life was really in my hands (read more about this in my first blog post) I knew that I didn’t want to be held back by these fears anymore.
I know from experience that those niggling voices of doubt, telling you you can’t do something, are powerful and can hold you in check at moments when you don’t have the energy or optimism to drown them out. A lot of the best decisions in my life have been made when I have acted quickly to tie myself to the course of action that my heart tells me is the right thing to do.
I had became disillusioned with the role, the limitations imposed upon me, and lack of opportunities available to me in my first full-time job. So I decided to quit without a finalised plan of action. Granted I had the reassuring option that I could always move back to my parents but that wasn’t what I wanted and at the time handing in my notice felt like a scary leap of faith.
Providence acted quickly here and the very evening I resigned I came home to a letter offering me a new job. That job resulted in my meeting some great people, including my fiancé, and a wealth of opportunities and experiences that I am incredibly grateful for.
When I was offered a three month internship in Cambodia, that I had applied for without too much forethought, I committed before I could find excuses not to go. I arranged a period of unpaid leave with work, so I could undertake the role and have a job to come back to, and told so many people that not going would have been embarrassing.
As the date for my departure neared the reality of living so far away, in a culture so different to my own, without any income for three months hit me. I really wanted to back out but felt like I had trapped myself into the decision and there was no turning back. Which was just as well as I had an amazing time and would probably never have forgiven myself if I had pulled out because I let that hesitancy win.
Let’s skip to Geneva. Whilst, there were many great things about my old job I knew that I didn’t want to spend the next fourty-odd years working somewhere and doing something that I just wasn’t that interested in.
I had been searching for human rights jobs in London until one day I forgot to add the ‘London’ to the search criteria and the Geneva job came up. Had a quick chat with the fiancé about it, concluded might as well apply and see what happens. When I was offered an initial interview, thought about it a little more but, without worrying about the implications, decide I might as well plug on regardless. Then a second interview and a job offer followed and it was time to make a decision.
This wasn’t quite a blind leap of faith, there were things to consider like would the fiancé and the cats come? What would the fiancé do? What would we do with the flat? What about friends and family? Could we afford to do this? There were a lot of questions but the gut feeling was that I should go and we’d figure everything else out from there. So I accepted the job and moved to Geneva.
It hasn’t always been easy, I miss friends and family, and financial issues that would have been resolved had we just stayed in London have actually got a lot worse since moving here. Had I really thought in great detail about all this, had I focussed on every issue before committing myself there is a good chance I’d never even have applied. But here I am and, on balance, I’m happy with my decision.
Not moving to Geneva would have been easy but I don’t necessarily want easy, I want a life lived as fully as possible. My Geneva book club (I suspect there will be more on that in the future) led me into the path of Marcus Aurelius recently and I think he sums it up pretty well: “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” I can cope with financial difficulties, I can’t cope with letting fear of the unknown stop me from living.
4 thoughts on ““Boldness has genius, power and magic in it””
Can I have my book back sis?
I didn’t half inch your book I copied the quote into a notebook!
Which book was it? There’s only a 50% chance it was mine anyway.