Rudyard Kipling – ‘If’

While I enjoy writing poetry when I get the time and inspiration, I don’t often find poetry written by others that really resonates with me.  When I do, however, it is definitely something worth making a note of, because a good bit of poetry is a beautiful thing.

Yesterday I stumbled on the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling over at The Art of Manliness.  It definitely falls in the ‘resonates-with-my-soul’ category, so I thought it would be worthwhile sharing it on here…

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

What do you think?  What other poems are worth checking out?

In Praise of Early Mornings

Early mornings, to me, are the most mysterious, exciting and inspiring time of the day. I am fascinated by the way people use them, and motivate themselves to take hold of them. In my mind, they stand alone as the time of day that is the hardest to grasp, but yield the greatest rewards if pursued diligently. As I look through history, so many of the great men and women who made a real and lasting impact on the world seized those quiet hours of the morning. Articles like Michael Hyatt’s ‘Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast’ and Lifehacker articles on mornings get me excited.

I haven’t got this sorted by any means, but I am convinced that mornings have a greater purpose than simply to get between bed and work. It’s a topic I enjoy thinking about, so don’t be surprised to see more reflections on mornings, and how to seize them, pop up on the site here.

The Song

I wrote this poem while sitting at the base of the clocktower building one calm spring evening in my final year of study.  Enjoy.

Your song, oh God, is deeper; richer
Than any man-made sound or mixture.
The soft whisper of rustling leaves
In springtimes cool, refreshing breeze;
A muted sound of rushing stream
Is beauty heard and yet unseen;
Sparrows lift a care-free cry
As playfully they race the sky;
And down below a child at play
Laughs a toast to this glorious day.

Macro or Micro Beauty

Perhaps the goal isn’t necessarily to discover more of the big beautiful things, but to recognise more beauty in small things.

Or, instead of craving more times spent admiring mountains or gazing at amazing sunsets, we should seek to explore the beauty inherent in everyday conversations and appreciate the sight of leaves waving in the wind. That said, I reckon one influences and improves the other.

You’ll Never be ‘Ready’

When it comes to life stages, I’ve always had this desire to be ‘ready’ for the next one, whatever that meant.

As a single man, I tried to equip myself for the day when I would have a girl by my side. That said, as my relationship with Paula grew beyond a normal friendship I still felt woefully unprepared for the exciting phase I was entering. With so many unresolved issues, unconquered battles and unfinished thoughts I took on this new role of being a boyfriend. What I found was that stepping into the unknown world of relationships was exactly what I needed to figure out the issues that bugged me (or more precisely, helped me get over myself enough to realise that a lot of my personal issues didn’t actually matter).

Likewise, as I counted down to my wedding day, I would occasionally find myself freaking out at how ill-prepared I was to make such a huge, lifelong and life-transforming commitment. We’d talked things through, trying to pre-empt any issues we may encounter on our journey together, but we both knew that our feeble attempts at peering through the mists of time could very easily be misguided. Two and a half years later I’m more informed about what marriage entails, but still learning and discovering how to do this thing as we go.

Now once again, as I look forward to the arrival of my first kid, I’m facing something profoundly life changing that no amount of reading or studying can truly prepare me for. I’m not exactly where I want to be in my career, my relationship with Paula has room for a lot more growth and I still have projects, hopes and dreams that haven’t been fulfilled. Sometimes that scares me, but as I reflect on the curious way life works I’m also excited that the very process of becoming an awesome dad will grow me in ways I can’t even imagine now, with the ripples spreading across the whole of life.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying that trying to prepare yourself for these big changes is a waste of time. What I’ve learnt, though, is that not having all the answers shouldn’t be a reason for not taking the plunge and getting excited about the learning that will result.