Do What You Can… (The Evolution of Ideas.)

There is an idea, embodied in a quote that I recently read, which to my mind, is one of the most important and vital master keys to: living a life of joyeous productivity and achievement unhindered by unnecessary bullshit or false constraint.

It is an idea which has been battle tested by every single person throughout the whole of history, who has ever accomplished anything of significance.

It is fully timeless.  It is the internal foundation and impetus for all action.  It has been, and continues to be, of the greatest value in my own life.

Would you like to know what it is?…

“Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are.”

           – Theodore Roosevelt

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that this may seem entirely underwhelming.  I mean, how basic and common sensical can you get, right?  But if you: stop and read it just a few more times.  If you consider it, just a little bit.  If you can begin to get to grips with the concepts that underlie these twelve short words; then you may realise that this is a potentially paradigm-shifting idea of awesome power, and epic magnitude.

Consider this question: If you want to do something, yet are not doing it, then what is the reason behind your inaction?

Maybe you’re really tired.  Maybe you don’t have the time.  Maybe you think you need more of something: (intelligence, talent, or resources).  Maybe you think you need less of something: (responsibilities, pressures, or constraints).  Whatever the given reason, when you cut to the heart of it, these are all ways of saying: you do not believe that present conditions are good enough for you to begin.  They are all ways of saying:

Not. Ready. Yet.

These three words, combined, form the mental equivalent of a deadly poison.  A highly contagious toxic meme.  An idea which, if left unchecked, will burrow, like a parasite, deep into your frontal lobe.  Over time, as inexorably and as surely as leprosy, these three little words will begin to deaden the very nerves within you until, finally, you are rendered mercifully numb to the fact that important and vital parts of you are being sloughed away and becoming lost to the void.

We all know that, on some level, there exists an endless array of ever-available reasons to: delay beginning, or stop doing anything.  Look hard enough, turn over enough moldy, slime encrusted rocks, and you can always find a good excuse.  Reality is such that, conditions are rarely, if ever, perfect or optimal.  Which is why this is not a quote that speaks about a ‘perfect’ idea.

This quote is not shiny.  It teeth are not laser-whitened.  It’s skin is not fake-tanned.  These are practical wordsReal words.  They come to you bloody, scuffed up, well used, and toughened by relentless testing and exposure in the murky trenches of life.  They tell us: we achieve things in spite of conditions, not because of them.  They tell us that: with a conscious shift of perspective, you can reframe your reality from something that impedes you, to something that empowers you.  They tell us we can.  And they tell us that it doesn’t matter that this isn’t a shiny idea, because: the truth will beat seven fucks out of shiny on any given day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.

Do not let yourself be fooled by it’s brevity.  The idea contained within this quote is as sophisticated and powerful a piece of technology as you are ever likely to find anywhere on this planet.  Forty two, innocuously innocent little letters, arranged into a pattern of twelve tiny words which, if embodied and acted upon, can literally change the experience and course of your entire life.  It is the simple and elegant antidote to everything that holds us back as human beings.  Not: ‘not ready’, but: ‘I have everything I need‘.  Not: ‘conditions aren’t perfect’, but: ‘I can use this‘.

Not: ‘Wait’, but…

Now.


Did you like this?

If you enjoyed this you may also like: my love letter to the mountains of Scotland, my essay about how things can be more beautiful for having been broken, or my recent post on how to find beauty, even in the darkest of places.


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224 Replies to “Do What You Can… (The Evolution of Ideas.)”

  1. I read this and smiled a lot….I also laughed out very loudly and created new wrinkles (that might be a slight exaggeration.)

    I know many people who have lots of things on the go, they actually go out of their way to find reasons why nothing is finished or even half way there. Discussing this in greater detail, one person admitted that they find other things to do so that he doesn’t have to complete the list that threatens to suffocate him any day now.

    ” the truth will beat seven fucks out of shiny on any given day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.” – oh how this lights up my eyes. You have such a flair for writing and being brutally honest: I like that a lot.

    I see everything as an opportunity: rain creates mud and I love mud, it also creates calm and peace and affords me the opportunity to shop mostly in peace.

    I digress….. There are endless opportunities around every corner.

    Continue to enrich the lives of others. Thank you for being you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “With a conscious shift of perspective, you can reframe your reality from something that impedes you, to something that empowers you.” Wonderful example of contrast. I’m reveling in the momentum of those 21 words because everything we desire has the ability to become. There are no limits, only contradictory thoughts. And when the dominant intention is to be real and authentic, we begin deciphering the code of who we really are.
    In appreciation of your thoughts, philosophy and writing, James.
    ~S

    Like

  3. Reblogged this and commented:
    I need to read this post every day, or otherwise have it somehow written into my mind, because what you say is so different from what I’ve been hearing and believin much too often in my life, and so, so true. And practical, too. And true, but I’ve already said that.

    Like

  4. Reblogged this and commented:
    A wonderful message that needs to be sent out and heard by everyone. Wonderful post, and I am personally grateful for stumbling across this blog!

    Keep the words of wisdom coming!

    Like

  5. James, This is well said. It’s something that I’ve really been working on changing in my life. As a recovering perfectionist, it’s a challenge to step out knowing that you don’t have all the information you need to do the “Best”, but I’m at a point in life that I would rather try and fail than just keep judging from the sidelines.
    Cheers.
    Jim

    Like

  6. Reblogged this and commented:
    This is a really well written encouragement to everyone to make something from today. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll likely never begin. Sometimes, the best place to think about what you really want to achieve is in action towards that goal.
    I challenge everyone to consider what it is they are dreaming of, and take the first step towards that today.

    Like

  7. Love this one! I have always said to live in your truth, and it is subjective I suppose..you took it to a whole different perspective for me. My favorite line…”the truth will beat seven fucks out of shiny on any given day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.”…because just yes…I am so new to this world called blogging, I appreciate every view and like, always check the person out. I have to say though, I really like your view on life, giving back and your blog is awesome. Thanks for the like on my post…good luck with all you keep doing 🙂

    Like

    1. Hey there,
      Thanks a lot for this comment, I appreciate it and am glad you took the time to write me.
      I really like your blog, it is super interesting, and I have a lot of respect for your honesty.
      More power to you!
      – J
      P.S. – That is probably my favourite line too 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this and commented:
    This seems like really great advice. I admit, I suffer from a problem where I’m forever putting things off. I never feel ready, so I keep training. I buy more textbooks and teach myself new skills and yet I still don’t feel ready. It’s like in my mind I’ll never be good enough to do the things I really want despite the protests from my friends. I have many game and art ideas, but most of them never get started because I always feel like I need to do more planning. I guess if we always put things off we may never get anywhere, and I reckon our skills will grow much more quickly if we push ourselves earlier on than waiting for when it feels right. This is a big issue for me, but it seems I’m not alone in struggling with this.

    Like

    1. Hey there,
      You are totally not alone with this. I think that it’s something that everyone must continually confront within themselves.
      Thanks so much for sharing my stuff, I’m really glad you liked it.
      And begin. Whatever you are putting off – start today. Do it. Trust me, it will be worth it.
      – J

      Like

  9. Reblogged this and commented:
    I am always telling myself: when you can – work. This means, use any opportunity to work, whatever work is at that time: things you need to do for your job, for your home, for your family, for your relationships, for yourself. Sometimes, it is very, very difficult to work. There are times in life when movement and progression are extremely limited. That’s why it’s so important not to waste any opportunities. Circumstances will rarely be optimal, but they are often enabling – to an extent. So work, whenever you can. Be active. Continue striving to achieve the things that matter to you. Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are.

    Like

  10. I loved this piece that you’ve crafted around one of my favorite Teddy quotes. I’m slowly coming out of a bit of a torpor, learning the new ways I need to be in order to accomplish my goals. This is a central philosophy, for me. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Like

  11. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as
    long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?

    My website is in the very same area of interest as yours and
    my users would really benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks a
    lot!

    Like

  12. Insightful, and something I’ve been trying to articulate to myself for awhile now. Thanks. Also, thanks for stopping in at The Brass Rag. Come back and see us often, cause you know, we like smart people. 🙂

    Like

  13. Absolutely not ashamed to say that that is often me (when I’m trying to do far too many things anyway). I have although learned, that sometimes the true reason for inaction is your real lack of desire. A subconscious reality of needing to pursue other avenues, make other things flourish to make your soul thrive.

    Like

  14. I agree – Fucking. Brilliant (you didn’t strike me as the kind of person who has issue with profanity). So glad you stopped by my blog! 🙂

    When I think about all the reasons (read: excuses) I’ve made for not doing or starting something, at the root of all of it is fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of change, etc. The other thing I’ve noticed is that when you actually start doing whatever it is you were putting off, even if it doesn’t come together, you end up with an opportunity for an amazing learning and growing experience which can leave you with more resources than you had before.

    Thanks again for stopping by – hope to see more of you soon!
    ~WA

    Like

    1. Hey there,
      I have zero issues with profanity. Tho, I did once hear a comedian friend say that he is super judicious with it’s use, in order to preserve it’s awesome impactiful power. 😉
      I totally agree with you 100% on the point you made.
      Glad you stopped by, hope to see more of you too,
      – J

      Like

  15. Hi James, thanks so much for visiting my blog.
    Glad to have found yours 🙂
    Thanks for the reminder today… Love this quote. Very timely for me right now.
    Gonna write them down. Fabulous honest post.

    Like

  16. Oh my, my, my dear James. Love this post. Tucking it in close because I happen to need it right now. Thank you!

    I once wrote a post about beginning and included this line: “Despite every other fucking thing, begin.” Do it when the timing is all wrong. Amazingly my meditations right now are a simple word: “Ready.” Because it does seem simple, but just as you say, we’ve got to own our ‘ready’ – claim it, stand in it.

    You are a rock star, friend. Thanks for the light 🙂

    Peace, always ~

    Allison

    Like

    1. Allison! 😉
      Really lovely to hear from you! I’m glad you liked the post. It is, for sure, one of my favourite quotes. I really enjoy your writing, and love the line you included from your post.
      How’s everything going?
      You are a rock star too,
      Be well,
      – J x

      Like

      1. You rock my world, kiddo, thank you for asking. I’m working toward that dream of mine and things are starting to line up but must keep pushing onward!

        It’s creative, brilliant, generous hearts like yours who keep me inspired, I mean that. I’ve been ‘officially’ published in a poetry collection called Heart Whispers so I’m loving that. The other indie poets are fantastic, I’m so blessed to be included.

        It feels so good to have a vision, right?

        Big hugs, big love, guy 😉

        Like

        1. Hey there,
          I’m glad stuff is lining up for you – that’s a good place to be for sure. 😉
          Thanks so much for the compliment – I am humbled by your words.
          WELL DONE on being ‘officially’ published, that is a great achievement!
          Hope you are rocking your day.
          Hugs and Love right back at you,
          – J x 😉

          Like

  17. Thank you. Thank you so much for posting this. This is my whole way of life, no boundaries… It’s just that lately I haven’t been following it at all. Thank you.

    Like

  18. Hi James.

    I’m totally with you on the truth of those words. I’m only coming to realise their application in my own life but the important thing is, I have finally come to this point.

    Thank you for reading my blog also. I look forward to reading more from you. I’m now Following 🙂

    Always, Amanda ❤️

    Like

    1. Hey there Amanda,
      Thanks a lot for stopping by, and for following the blog. I will do my best to make good things to give to you. 😉
      You are welcome for the reading on my part – Keep up the good work!
      Hope you are well,
      – J

      Like

  19. Great post!!! Thanks so much for sharing the post and your insight. I look forward to reading more. Best of luck to you.

    Like

  20. Hi James, I can totally identify with the points you are making. In my own writings, I have tried to express similar thoughts and observation. It would bring me great pleasure, if someone of your deep perception, would read my pieces on “Perception” ,”Respect”, “The Master”. Thank you for stopping by and for liking “Genius”.

    Like

  21. So glad you discovered my blog which in turn led me to yours and your music … and your ideas. I like the Theodore Roosevelt quote. Sometimes the obvious hides in plain sight.

    Like

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