“Every great soul of man has had its vision and pondered it, until the passion to make the dream come true has dominated his life.”
“You will be what you will to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor world ‘environment,’
But spirit scorns it, and is free. ✨
“The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.”
Washington, in a letter written when he was but twelve years old, said: “I shall marry a beautiful woman; I shall be one of the wealthiest men in the land; I shall lead the army of my colony; I shall rule the nation which I help to create.”
General Grant, in his “Memoirs,” says that as a boy at West Point, he saw General Scott seated on his horse, reviewing the cadets, and something within him said, “Ulysses, some day you will ride in his place and be general of the army.”
Every one knows how those boyish visions were realized by the mature men.
The late J. Pierpont Morgan’s fortune was built largely by the dynamic forcefulness of his thought, of his mental visualizing, the nursing of his youthful visions. He was a man of varied and æsthetic tastes, but he concentrated upon finance and he became the world’s master in its science.
Ancient Greece concentrated on beauty and art, and she became the great beauty model and art teacher of the world. The Roman Empire concentrated upon power—and became the mistress of the world. England concentrated on the control of the seas and commerce, and she has become the ruler of the seas and the greatest commercial nation in the world. We are a nation of money-makers because Americans have concentrated largely upon the dollar. They think in its terms; they dream dollars; they hate poverty and they long for wealth.
Whatever an individual or a people concentrates upon it tends to get, because concentration is just as much of a force as is electricity. The youth who concentrates upon law, thinks law, dreams law, reads everything he can get hold of relating to law, steals into courts, listens to trials at every chance he gets, is sure to become a lawyer.
It is the same with any other vocation or art,—medicine, engineering, literature, music; any of the arts or sciences. Those who concentrate upon an idea, who continue to visualize their dreams, to nurse them, who never lose sight of their goal, no matter how dark or forbidding the way, get what they concentrate on. They make their minds powerful magnets to attract the thing on which they have concentrated. Sooner or later they realize their dreams.
What could have kept Ole Bull from becoming a master musician? Who or what could keep back a boy who would brave his father’s displeasure, steal out of his bed at night, and go into the attic to play his “little red violin,” which haunted his dreams and would not let him sleep? What could keep a Faraday or an Edison, whom no hardships frightened, from realizing the wonderful visions of boyhood?
If you can concentrate your thought and hold it persistently, work with it along the line of your greatest ambition, nothing can keep you from its realization. But spasmodic concentration, spasmodic enthusiasm, however intense, will peter out. Dreaming without effort will only waste your power. It is holding your vision, together with persistent, concentrated endeavor on the material plane, that wins.
There are thousands of devices in the patent office in Washington that have never been of any use to the world, simply because the inventors did not cling to their vision long enough to materialize it in perfection. They became discouraged. They ceased their efforts. They let their visions fade, and so became demagnetized and lost the power to realize them. Other inventors have taken up many such “near” successes, added the missing links in their completion, and have made them real successes.
“Get thy spindle and distaff ready, and God will send the flax,” saith the proverb. If we would only take God’s promises to heart, and do our necessary part for their fulfillment no one would be unsuccessful or unhappy. If we were to send out our desires intensely; to visualize them until our very mentalities vibrated with the things we long for, and to work persistently in their direction, we would attract them.
Everywhere some disappointed men and women have soured on life because they could not get what they longed for,—a musical or art education, the necessary training for authorship, for law or medicine, for engineering, or for some other vocation to which they felt they had been called. They are struggling along in an uncongenial environment, railing at the fate which has robbed them of their own. They feel that life has cheated them when the truth is they have cheated themselves. They never got the spindle and distaff ready that would have drawn to them the flax for the spinning of a happy and complete life web. They did not insistently and persistently send out their desires and longings; they did not nurse them and positively refuse to give them up; above all, they did not put forth their best efforts for their realization.
Three things we must do to make our dreams come true. Visualize our desire. Concentrate on our vision. Work to bring it into the actual. The implements necessary for this are inside of us, not outside. No matter what the accidents of birth or fortune, there is only one force by which we can fashion our life material—mind.
The bee and the snake draw material from the same plant. The one transmutes it into deadly poison; the other into delicious honey. The power that changes the stuff into a new substance is within the bee and the snake.
Of two boys or two girls in the same wretched environment, one picks up an education, trains himself or herself for place and power, while the other grows up a nobody. It is all in the boy or the girl. Each has similar material to work in. One transmutes it into gold; the other into the lead.
Two sailors force the same breeze to send their boats in opposite directions. It is not the wind, but the set of the sail that determines the port.
The power that makes our desire, our vision, the reality is not in our environment or any condition outside of us; it is within us.
There is some unseen, unknown, magnetic force developed by a long-continued concentration of the mind upon a cherished desire that draws to itself the reality which matches the desire. We cannot tell just what this force is that brings the thing we long for out of the cosmic ether and objectifies it, shapes it to correspond with our longing. We only know that it exists. The cosmic ether everywhere surrounding us is full of undreamed potencies and the strong, concentrated mind reaches out into this ether, this sea of intelligence attracts to it its own, and objectifies the desire.
All human achievements have been pulled out of the unseen by the brain, through the mind reaching out and fashioning the wealth of material at its disposal into the shapes which matched the wishes, the desires, of the achievers.
All the great discoveries, great inventions, great deeds that have lifted man up from his animal existence have been wrought out of the actual by the perpetual thinking of and visualizing these things by their authors. These grand characters clung to their vision, nursed it until they became mighty magnets that attracted out of the universal intelligence the realization of their dreams.
Most revolutionary inventions have evolved from a flash of thought. The sewing machine, for example, started with a simple idea, which the inventor held persistently in his mind until through his efforts the idea materialized into the concrete reality. Elias Howe used to watch his wife making garments, sewing, sewing far into the night, and it set him thinking, questioning whether such drudgery was necessary. As he watched her busy needle fly back and forth, he began to wonder if this same work which it took his wife so long to do could not be done with less labor and in half the time by some sort of mechanical contrivance. He kept nursing his idea, thinking what a splendid thing it would be if someone could relieve millions of women from this toil, which frequently had to be done at night after a day of hard work. He began to experiment with crude devices, clinging to his vision through poverty and the denunciation of friends, who thought the man must be crazy to spend his time on “such a cool idea.” But at last, his vision materialized into a marvelous reality, a perfected machine that has emancipated the women of the world from infinite drudgery.
The idea of the telephone was flashed into the mind of Professor Alexander Bell by the drawing of a string through a hole in the bottom of a tin can, using which he found that the voice could be transmitted. The idea took such complete possession of the inventor that it robbed him of sleep and, for a time, made him poor. But nothing could rob him of his vision or prevent him from struggling to work it out of the visionary stage into the actual.
I lived near Professor Bell, in the next room, indeed, while he worked on his invention. I saw much of his struggle with poverty, heard the criticisms and denunciations of his friends, as he persisted in his visionary work until the telephone became a reality,—a reality without which modern business could not be conducted.
All of Edison’s inventions, those of every inventor, have been wrought out on the same principle that gave us the sewing machine and the telephone. They all started in simple ideas, in dream visions which were nursed and worked into actualities.
According to Darwin, the desire to ascend into the heavens preceded the appearance and development of the eagle’s wings. It is said our different organs and functions have been developed from a sense of need of them, just as the wings of the eagle developed from a desire to fly.
The brain cells grow in response to desire. Where there is no desire there is no growth. The brain develops most in the direction of the leading ambition, where the mental activities are the most pronounced. The desire for a musical career, for instance, develops the musical brain cells. Business ambition develops that part of the brain which has to do with business, the cells which are brought into action in executive management, in administering affairs, in money making. Wherever we make our demand upon the brain by desire that part responds in growth.
For years a poor country boy builds air castles of his future. He visualizes the great mercantile establishment over which he is to preside. The ridicule of his family and of young companions cannot daunt him or blur the bright vision he sees away in the distance. He continues to nurse his vision, and behold, out of the unknown, unexpected resources come, and soon he finds himself an office boy in a great mercantile house in the city of his dreams. He watches everything with an eagle eye; he absorbs information and ideas; he is alert, active, energetic, resourceful, and in a few months he is promoted, and then again promoted. He attracts the attention of the head of the establishment, who calls him into his private office, tells him that he has had his eye on him for many months and that he believes he is the youth he has been looking for to manage the business. He gives him a little stock; the business prospers still further under his management, and in a few years the new manager is made a full partner in the house which he entered as an office boy. This is the flowering out of his dream, the objectifying of his vision, the matching with reality his youthful longings. His brain has been continually developing along the line of his vision, drawing to him the material to make it real.
A poor girl, the daughter of humble people in Maine who thought that to become a public singer was an unforgivable sin, could not in the beginning see any possible way to realize the dreams she held in secret, but she kept visualizing her dream, nursing her desire and doing the only thing for its realization her parents would allow,—singing in a little church choir. Gradually the way opened, and one step led to another until the little Maine girl became the famous Madame Nordica, one of the world’s greatest singers.
No matter if you are a poor girl away back in the country, and see no possible way of leaving your poor old father and mother in order to prepare for your career, don’t let go of your desire. Whether it be music, art, literature, business or a profession, hold to it. No matter how dark the outlook, keep on visualizing your desire and light and opportunity will come to enable you to make it a reality. Whatever the Creator has fitted you to do He will give you a chance to do, if you cling to your vision and struggle as best you can for its attainment.
Think of the Lillian Nordicas, the Lucy Stones, the Louisa Alcotts, the Mary Lyons, the Dr. Anna Howard Shaws, the thousands of women who were hedged in just as you are, by poverty or forbidding circumstances of some sort, yet succeeded in spite of everything in doing what they desired to do, in being what they longed to be. Take heart and believe that God has given you also “all implements divine to shape the way” to your soul’s desire.
If you are a boy on a farm and feel that you are a born engineer, yet see no possible way to get a technical education, don’t lose heart or hope. Get what books you can on your specialty. Cling to your vision. Push out in every direction that is possible to you. It may take years, but if you are true to yourself your concentration on your desire, your pushing toward it, will open a door into the light, and before you know it you will be on the road to your goal.
The Washingtons, the Lincolns, the Faradays, the Edisons, the men who have done most for their country and for humanity have had to struggle as hard as you are struggling to attain their heart’s desire. The opportunities for boys and girls to bring out whatever the Creator has implanted in them are ten to one to-day to what they were one hundred, or fifty, or even twenty-five years ago. The great danger in our time is not lack of chance or opportunity but of losing our vision, of letting our ambition die.
Most of us instead of treating our desires seriously trifle with them as though they were only to be played with, as though they never could be realities. We do not believe in their divinity. We regard our heart longings, our soul yearnings as fanciful vagaries, romances of the imagination. Yet we know that every invention, every discovery or achievement that has blessed the world began in a desire, in a longing to produce or to do a certain thing, and that the persistent longing was accompanied by a struggle to make the mental picture a reality.
It is difficult for us to grasp the fact that ambition, accompanied by effort, is actually a creative power which tends to realize itself. Our minds are like that of the doubting disciple, who would not believe that his Lord had risen until he had actually thrust his finger into the side which had been pierced by a cruel spear. Only the things that we see seem real to us when, as a matter of fact, the most real things in the world are the unseen.
We never doubt the existence of the force that brings the bud out of the seed, the foliage and the flower out of the bud, the fruits, the vegetables from the flower. It is invisible. We cannot sense it, but we know that it is mightier than anything we see. No one can see or hear or feel gravitation, or the forces which balance the earth and whirl it with lightning speed through space, bringing it round its orbit without a variation of the tenth of a second in a century, yet who can doubt their reality? Does any one question the mighty power of electricity because it cannot be seen or heard or smelled?
The potency of our desires, of our soul longings, when backed by the effort to make them realities, is just as real as is that of any of the unseen forces in Nature’s great laboratory. The great cosmic ether is packed with invisible potentialities. Whatever comes out of it to you comes in response to your call. Everything you have accomplished in life has been a result of a psychic law which, consciously or unconsciously, you have obeyed.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that the way will not open because you cannot now see any possible means of achieving that for which you long. The very intensity of your longing for a certain career, to do a certain thing, is the best evidence that you have the ability to match it, and that this ability was given you for a purpose, even to play a divine, a magnificent part in the great universal plan. The longing is merely the forerunner of achievement. It is the seed that will germinate if nurtured by effort.
If, however, you stop at sowing the seed you will get just about as much harvest as a farmer would get if he should sow his seeds without preparing the soil, without fertilizing or cultivating it or keeping down the weeds. It is the blending of the practical with the ideal that brings the harvest from the seed thought. You must keep on struggling toward your ideal. No matter how black and forbidding the way ahead of you, just imagine you are carrying a lantern which will advance with you and give light enough for the next step. It is not necessary to see to the end of the road. All the light you need is for the next step. Faith in your vision and persistent endeavor will do the rest. There is no doubt that if we do our part, the Divinity that has created us, given us an appointed place and a work in the plan of the universe, will bring things out better than we can plan or even imagine.
Send out your wishes, cherish your desires, force out your yearnings, your heart longings with all the intensity and persistency you can muster, and you will be surprised to see how soon they will begin to attract their affinities, how they will grow and take tangible shape, and ultimately become actual things. Fling out your desires into the cosmic ether boldly, with the utmost confidence. Therein you will gather the material which shall build into reality the castle of your dreams.
The trouble with us is that we are afraid to do this. We fear that fate will mock us, cast back to us our mental visions empty of fruition. We do not understand the laws governing our thought forces any more than we understand the laws governing the universe. If we had faith in their power, our earnest thoughts and efforts would germinate and bud and flower just as does the tiny seed we put into the earth.
Think how the seed must be tended and nurtured before it will give forth the new life. See how the delicate bud has to be coaxed by the sun and air for many months before it pushes its head up through the tough sod to the light. Suppose it were afraid to make the attempt and should say: “It is impossible for me to get out of this dark earth. There is no light here. I am so tender the slightest pressure will break me and stop my growth forever. The only way out of my prison is to push up through this tough sod, and it would take a tremendous force to do that. I would be crushed, strangled, before I got half way through.”
But the sun beckons, coaxes, encourages. The bud is moved into attempting the “impossible,” and behold, in a few days it rears its tender head above what it considered the great enemy of its progress. The dark sod, the very thing which it thought was going to make its future impossible, becomes its support and strength. The very struggle to get up through the soil has strengthened its fiber and fitted it to cope with the elements above, with the storms it must meet.
Just like this tender plant, you may be hemmed in by seemingly insurmountable obstacles; you may not see a ray of light through the sod of hard, forbidding circumstances, but hold your vision and keep pushing. In your struggle you will develop strength, you will find sunshine and air, growth and life. You may be shut in by an uncongenial occupation and tempted to lose heart and give up your dreams because you can see no way to better yourself. This is just the time to cling to them, and to insist that they shall come true. Without knowing it you may be just in the middle of the sod, and if you keep pushing where you are, in season and out of season, you will come to the sunlight and the air, to freedom.
There is no human being who doesn’t have some sort of a chance. If your present position cramps you; if it does not give you room to express yourself, you can make room by filling it to overflowing, by doing your work as well as it can be done, by keeping your mind steadfastly fixed on the ladder of your ascent. In your mind you make the stairs by which you ascend or descend. Nobody else can do it for you. The master key which will unlock that cruel door that keeps you back is not in the hand of fate. You are fashioning it by your thoughts.
Your next step is right where you are, in the thing you are doing to-day. The door to something better is always in the duty of the moment. The spirit in which you do your work, the energy which you throw into it, the determination with which you back up your ambition—these, no matter what opposes, are the forces that unlock the door to something better. If you hold to your vision and are honest, earnest and true, there is nothing that can stand in the way of its realization.
I have never known a person who was dead-in-earnest in his efforts to gain his heart’s desire who has not finally reached his goal. No great, insistent, persistent, honest longing backed by downright hard, conscientious work ever comes back empty-handed.
Desire is at the bottom of every achievement. We are the product of our desires. What we long for, strive for, the vision we nurse, is our great life shaper, our character molder.
Very few can realize the close coördination which exists between their visions, their mind pictures, and the actual accomplishments of their career. If I were asked to name the principal cause of the majority of failures in life I should say it was the failure to understand this, to grasp the relation of thought to accomplishment. The gradual fading out of one’s dreams, the losing of one’s vision, may be traced to this cause.
When we first start in life we are enthusiasts. Our vision is bright and alluring, and we feel confident we are going to win out, that we shall do something distinctive, something individual, unusual. But after a few setbacks and failures, we lose heart, and faith in our vision dies. Then we gradually awaken to the fact that our ambition is beginning to deteriorate. It is not quite as sharply defined as formerly. Our ideals are a trifle dimmed, our longings a trifle less insistent. We try to find reasons and excuses for our lagging efforts and waning enthusiasm. We think it may be due to over-work; because we are tired and need a rest, or because our health is not quite up to standard, and that by and by our former intense desire to realize our dreams will return. But the whole process is so insidious that before we realize it our fires, for lack of fuel, are quite burned out. Our grip on our vision was not strong enough. We did not half understand its mighty power, when firmly and persistently kept in mind, to help us to our goal.
What we get out of life depends very largely on fidelity to our visions. If we believe in them we will not let them die for lack of nursing. If we really have ability to match them, and are not self-deceived by egotism, petty vanity and conceit, no misfortunes, no failure of plans, no discouragements, no obstacles, nothing in the world can separate us from them. We will cling to them to our dying day.
The man who believes in his life vision, who is not a mere egotist or idle dreamer, who sees in his desire a prophecy of something which he is perfectly able to make come true,—he is the man who has ever made the world move. He flings his life into his effort to match his vision with its reality.
The world stands aside for such a one, for one who believes in his vision, who consecrates himself without reserve to its fulfillment. People know there is something back of the dreamer who has such faith in his life dream that he will sacrifice everything to make it come true.
How much of a grip has your vision on you? Does it clutch you with a force that nothing but death can relax, or does it hold you so lightly that you are easily separated from it, discouraged from trying to make it real?
Constant discouragements are a great temptation to abandon one’s life dreams, to drop one’s standards. One’s vision is apt to become blurred in passing through great crises, in periods of general depression, in times of financial stress, but this is really the test of a strong character,—that he does not allow obstacles to divert him from his one aim. The man who is made of the stuff that wins hangs on to his vision, even to the point of starvation, for he knows that there is only one way of bringing it down to earth, and that is by clinging to it through storm and stress, in spite of every obstacle and discouragement.
Never mind what discouragements, misfortunes or failures come to you, let nobody, no combination of unfortunate circumstances, destroy your faith in your dream of what you believe you were made to do. Never mind how the actual facts seem to contradict the results you are after. No matter who may oppose you or how much others may abuse and condemn you, cling to your vision, because it is sacred. It is the God-urge in you. You have no right to allow it to fade or to become dim. Your final success will be measured by your ability to cling to your vision through discouragement. It will depend largely upon your stick-to-it-ive-ness, your bull dog tenacity. If you shrink before criticism and opposition you will demagnetize your mind and lose all the momentum which you have gained in your previous endeavor. No matter how black or threatening the outlook, keep working, keep visualizing your life dream, and some unexpected way will surely open for its fulfillment.
Put out of your mind forever any thought that you can possibly fail in reaching the goal of your longing. Set your face toward it; keep looking steadfastly in the direction of your ambition, whatever it may be; resolve never to recognize defeat, and you will by your mental attitude, your resolution, create a tremendous force for the drawing of your own to you. If you have the grit and stamina to stick, to persevere to the end, if you persistently maintain the victorious attitude toward your vision victory will crown your efforts.