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

  1. I have a supplemental quote to this lesson:

    “The universe puts us in places where we can learn. They’re never easy places, but they are right. Where ever we are is the right place and the right time. The Pain that sometimes comes, is part of the process of constantly being born.” – j michael straczynski – Babylon 5

    Like

  2. Why did this depress me so much? *sigh*
    It’s not you or what you say, you understand, but rather me.

    True words are the hardest to bear.

    Keep shining… x

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  3. I would definitely agree with you. Battered and broken, I know how much I can achieve now, when in my healthy youth I always saved my potential for a great formless ‘something’ I was working toward. I was always awaiting that one more thing that I needed to get it all to work. Blinded by dreams of the future, I landed in the future wholly unprepared, and I’m having to make up lost ground quickly.

    Yet, _that’s_ what I have now, and I make the best of it.Wishing I had seen your blog 20 years ago won’t make today any better, unless embarrassment is a good motivator. You’re in the Now when you go from here.

    You said it more eloquently than I could, though. Definitely sharing. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Thanks a lot for this.
      I am glad that the post worked for you, and you are totally right – ‘You’re in the Now when you go from here’.
      Beautifully put.
      Thanks for reading and for the comment,
      hope you’re doing well,
      – J

      Like

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