Decided I was going to spend a quiet evening in, am still knackered from my exertions over the holidays and was sitting here leafing through a book of poems, Tennyson’s Selected Poems. For me Tennyson has often been a source of inspiration, perhaps its something to do with the exquisiteness of the atmosphere he creates … his works invoke an illusion of loveliness … and its altogether too easy to loose yourself amongst those words. It doesn’t seem to matter how often I read them, the words never seem to loose their mystique, in fact I’m convinced that they seem to resonate more as I time passes … or as I get older as one of my friends suggested not too long ago.
A long time ago I committed this verse to memory, its the final stanza of Tennyson’s poem Ulysses:
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield
I always find this verse inspiring, it always serves to remind me that my world is what I choose to make it even though life occasionally throws me the odd curve ball. But that when it invariably does I need to remind myself and believe that the answers I’m looking for are out there but that I have to strive to find them … they wont just fall into my lap.
I guess its that struggle that we all contend with, but its only through that struggle within ourselves that we discover who we are. Or at least that’s what I believe. For me this verse has always been about hope, which can be a wonderful thing. Ironically it wasn’t too along ago I read or heard somewhere that (forgive me I’m paraphrasing here because I cant remember where) hope is the quintessential human delusion – paradoxical in that it is both the source of our greatest strength and our greatness weakness.
I find that at some level I agree with the sentiment, albeit a little reluctantly. We all have hopes, which we often translate into dreams – these dreams or aspirations drive us onwards, or indeed downwards. In attempting to realise them we sometimes choose to draw inspiration from our friends, sometimes we draw it from those we love, at other times we find solace in our own thoughts, or in the cryptical words of others written in, for example, poetry … or even prose ;-). Yet all these sources of inspiration unequivocally force us to look within ourselves and confront who we are, and what is it we think we have achieved or have not. Have our lives had meaning, have we made a difference, have we made anything?
We often decide to pursue these hopes and these dreams, believing that we’ll find what were looking for in attaining them … but when you do you come to the realisation that you have attained but one goal, but where do you go from here? What’s next? and so the journey begins again. Of course its never that clean cut is it? hell, sometimes I wish it was.
” may all your dreams but one come true”
When I was younger I couldn’t understand the significance of this saying. I mean why would you tell someone you wished that all their dreams didn’t come true. The answer is so simple but so easily lost. It’s because without dreams, and the challenges they present us with, and new goals we want to attain, what else is there left to live for, right?
But for all the strength they can give us, there’s an inherent danger, or the great weakness. That we spend all our time dreaming and hoping, and never actually doing. There’s a simple way to address this though as Paul Valery so eloquently put it …
“The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up”
… and … to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield!