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 never otherwise 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 dreamt would have come his way.
— W. H. Murray said that.
Think about a time in your life when you committed to something and then experienced the “providence” that Murray talks about.
What unforeseen incidents, meeting, material assistance appeared after you definitely committed?
Dwell on this a moment, and if you like, take a few notes. These journal prompts can help:
When you consider committing to (fill in the blank), what arises?
To definitely commit myself to (fill in the blank), I would need…
The things that tend to get in the way of my creative commitments include…
We are collecting evidence of being met by forces larger than ourselves, when we start moving in the direction of our dreams.
While many of my journals contain a lot of visual elements, like paint, photos and mixed-media collage, I have just as many notebooks that are full of mostly writing.
Today, try simply writing with your favorite pen on a blank piece of paper.
However you prefer to journal, it’s good to try working differently. This helps us break out of our patterns and ruts.
W. H. Murray, whose quote inspired this post, knew quite a lot about commitment.
Besides being a mountaineer (have you ever tried to climb a mountain?) he was also a writer, environmentalist, and a soldier who spent three years as a prisoner of war in World War II.
His first manuscript was written on smuggled toilet paper, destroyed by the Gestapo when they found it.
What did he do? Re-wrote it… see below for more of his story. Incredible.
This should be a boost for anyone suffering from page fright today.
The quote that opens this post is often misattributed to Goethe… read on if you want to learn more.
I’ve included excerpts from his Wikipedia entry here, below.
William Hutchison Murray (18 March 1913 – 19 March 1996) was a Scottish mountaineer and writer, one of a group of active mountain climbers, mainly from Clydeside, before and just afterWorld War II.
He was captured south of Mersa Matruh during the Western Desert Campaign in a retreat to El Alamein in June 1942 by a tank commander from the 15th Panzer Division who was armed with a machine-pistol. A passage in Mountain magazine (#67, 1979) describes the moments after his capture:
- To my astonishment, he [the German tank commander] forced a wry smile and asked in English, ‘Aren’t you feeling the cold?’ … I replied ‘cold as a mountain top’. He looked at me, and his eyes brightened. ‘Do you mean – you climb mountains?’ He was a mountaineer. We both relaxed. He stuffed his gun away. After a few quick words – the Alps, Scotland, rock and ice – he could not do enough for me.
He then spent three years in Prisoner of War camps in Italy (Chieti), Germany (Moosberg, Brunswick) and Czechoslovakia (Marisch Trubeau Oflag VIII-F).
While imprisoned, Murray wrote a book entitled Mountaineering in Scotland. The first draft of the work was written on the only paper available to him – rough toilet paper. The manuscript was found and destroyed by the Gestapo.
To the incredulity of his fellow prisoners, Murray’s response to the loss was to start again, despite the risk of its loss and that his physical condition was so poor from the near starvation diet that he believed he would never climb again.
The rewritten work was finally published in 1947 and was followed by the sequel, Undiscovered Scotland, in 1951. Both concentrate on Scottish winter climbing and were widely credited with helping to inspire the post-war renaissance in the sport. Though written in an evocative, rather pantheistic, style, somewhat too romantic for modern tastes, they are of significant literary value.
Murray was deputy leader to Eric Shipton on the 1951 Everest Reconnaissance Expedition, but failed to acclimatise at altitude and so was not included in the 1953 team. He also explored part of theApi group in Nepal with John Tyson in 1953.
He was an active campaigner to protect wilderness areas of Scotland from ill-considered development. In 1961, a major success was the defeat of plans to build a hydroelectric scheme in Glen Nevis.
His autobiography, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, was completed on his death by his wife Anne B. Murray (née Clark), who also contributed some of her poetry. The title was that of one of final chapters of Mountaineering in Scotland where Murray quoted a passage from the KJV translation of the New Testament which states that “faith is the evidence of things not seen” (Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1). It won the Grand Prize of the Banff Mountain Book Festival (2002).
This quote by Murray is widely misattributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The following passage occurs near the beginning of Murray’s The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951):
- … but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts.
- We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence.
- Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. 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 never otherwise 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 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!