It is the temperament which is willing to take risks that is the temperament of success, and that reads the messages written in sympathetic ink. Its success may not, invariably, be the success of personal gain, or of personal gratification; it may even come in the guise of sacrifice and of spending and being spent for others—but all the same it is the temperament of accomplishment and achievement, one that is a potent factor in the progress of the world. It is only the idealists who take risks, and it is they who contribute that which is most of value to the world. But between the idealist, in the true sense, and the mere aesthetic sentimentalist, there is a great gulf fixed. The idealist is imaginative, hopeful, and abounding with life and energy. He sees visions, and he dreams dreams, and he lives in a world of hopeful, happy forces that continually radiate new energy—that generate it, indeed, and that form the living coal on the altar. The mere aesthetic tastes are not to be mistaken for the strong out-going and outgiving forces of the idealist. A good proportion of what is mistakenly called art is only the aesthetic. The taste for color, decoration, for pictures and poetry of a grade that appeals only to taste and fancy but has no message of spiritual life to convey—that is by no means an attribute of the artistic, but rather of the aesthetic nature. The one is on the spiritual plane; the other on the sensuous. The one is the appreciator or the creator of all noble forms of art; the other is at home among the ginger-jar style of decorative effect.
If one would accomplish anything in the world worth doing, he must have sufficient confidence in himself to take risks, to set out on journeys of which he cannot see the end or know by what means he shall be guided; in other words, he must be capable of belief, of trust in the invisible. A strong purpose creates its own means of accomplishment. 'If a god wishes to ride,' says Emerson, 'every chip and stone will bud and shoot out winged feet for it to ride.'
Undoubtedly, above the material laws which we have investigated and in some degree formulated, there is a higher set of laws whose workings are as harmonious and as methodical, and which may be set in operation by compliance with their conditions. It is unquestionably these laws that are invoked by prayer. Being spiritual potencies, they are moved by spiritual agencies; and this may be true without any conflict with scientific theories or rationalistic truth, whose operations are restricted to the physical plane.
It is on this higher plane, and under the spiritual laws that govern it, that the idealist—who is constantly ready to take risks in order to inaugurate or to advance his projects—dwells. He is intuitively conscious, even if he has never formulated it, of having to do with powers that on a lower plane of life are unknown; he is conscious of a support of which the world knows not.
All great inventors and great discoverers have been men of this type. They have been great idealists, as truly as have been the great poets and painters. They have all been irresistibly borne onward by faith in the things that could not be seen.
I might turn back to other destinies,
For one sincere key opes all Fortune's doors.
—From "Columbus" by James Russell Lowell
Always to the idealist is it true that
Is more than time enough to find a world.
—From "Columbus" by James Russell Lowell
Always he feels the courage of his convictions in that
He who is conscious of alliance with these higher forces cannot know despondency or defeat. He sets out on the work whose purpose thrills and inspires. He has no idea of the details by which it is to be accomplished. He sees it as in vision, as a whole. If he were to await accurate and precise information as to the methods by which each detail could be wrought, he would never take the initial step. But he is sufficiently at one with these higher potentialities to know that in some way his purpose will be supported, his steps guided, his efforts prospered to fulfillment. Michael Angelo somewhere writes:
'Meanwhile, the Cardinal Ipolito, in whom all my best hopes were placed, being dead, I began to understand that the promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and that to confide in oneself, and become something of worth and value, is the best and safest course.'
At all events, it is they who do confide in themselves who are apt to become something of worth and contribute forces of value. They set their courses by the stars, and do not wait for a rushlight for every individual step of the way.
Shall I require to my authentic mission
Than this fierce energy—this instinct striving,
Because its nature is to strive?
—From "Parcalelsus" by Robert Browning
To believe and go forward is the key to success and to happiness. Doubt and distrust are the negative and corrosive forces. The enthusiasm for a high purpose calls into being the agencies by means of which it may be accomplished. Great powers attend on great thoughts; and, above all and beyond all, among the creative forces, is the power of a great faith.
More from Lilian Whiting
- Born on October 3rd, 1859 in Niagara Falls, New York and died in 1942
- Author and journalist
- Edited The Boston Traveler and The Boston Budget