In her diary, Virginia Woolf said, “I want to resemble a sort of liquid light which stretches beyond visibility or invisibility. Tonight I wish to have the valor and daring to belong to the moon.”
Woolf was nothing if not daring, as evidenced by the work she left behind which is stunning, beautiful in its complexity, beautiful in its difficult and demanding poetry. I've been thinking lately about how daring it is to concern ourselves with beauty, how daring it is to make beautiful things, to write beautiful sentences. And on some days I think, it's simply daring to get out of bed in the morning, to get on with the morning, and get into the messy fray of it all.
The last lines of Stephen Dunn's poem titled, "Poem for People That are Understandably Too Busy to Read Poetry" are as follows:
Good. Now here's what poetry can do.
Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There's an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You're beautiful for as long as you live.
In another poem by Dunn, titled, "Always Something More Beautiful," he says:
I had come to believe what’s beautiful
had more to do with daring
to take yourself seriously, to stay
the course, whatever the course might be.
How then, to dare to take ourselves seriously? How to believe that we are beautiful as long as we live? Which, yes, we are. We are. (Why is it that I can readily believe this about you, but not so much me?)
The answer, though, I think, is to begin. The answer is to stay the course.
What is it that you've always wanted to try? Perhaps you've already made a start, or you've been working on something for some time. Stay the course.
There is a book by Brené Brown which I keep seeing go by me a the library, and which I keep meaning to read. Have you? It's titled, Daring Greatly, which is taken from the following quotation:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
There is nothing more beautiful than daring greatly. There is nothing more beautiful than doing those things that call to you, with enthusiasm, with devotion. The kind of daring that is beyond visibility or invisibility, beyond being seen or not seen, heard or not heard. Out there, in the light, stumbling, stumbling....