Thoreau and then some

So I heard a quote on NPR about a month or two ago while I was driving to work, and I loved it so much that when I got to my desk, I googled it so that I could write it on my whiteboard. This is what sits just above the eyeline to my computer monitor:

If you have built castles in the air,

your work need not be lost;

that is where they should be.

Now put the foundations under them.

– Henry David Thoreau

I adore that quote.

I sit and fantasize all day long about what I want our life to be like. How great would it be if I didn’t have to sit in my gray box every day, missing my hubby and puppy, while the weather is gorgeous? What if I could take advantage of every great flight sale that I get emailed to my inbox? What if I could take photographs and write and doodle and make new friends all day long? What if we could take a summer long road-trip and visit all of our family and friends that have asked us to come for a visit?

Then I get snapped back to reality, and have to run some report or go to a meeting, and my fantasies dissipate like a bubble bursting. And I sigh, heavily.

But Davey Hank Thoreau says I’m ALLOWED to fantasize about these things. And that I SHOULD fantasize about these things. And that these fantasies are RIGHT. The important part is to prop them up. It’s not about moving into the castle tomorrow, it’s about “oh hey, this looks like a rock that’ll fit just nicely right… about… there.” And now I’m 6″ closer to that castle. And tomorrow’s rock might get me 8″ closer, and the day after that might only add a couple of inches, but it really is all about those baby steps.

When I first heard that quote, I just liked the validation for my fantasies. Today, I understood that what Phil and I have accidentally started doing in the past few weeks has been laying that foundation. I decided to stop sitting on the sidelines, and Phil welcomed me to the business with open arms. He had asked me to take over that part of it back in the early spring, but I didn’t really understand what that meant until I started testing the waters. Now I’m swimming in the deep end (to stretch the metaphor) and it’s worked out so well. I get to use my entrepreneurship undergrad degree and my master’s degree. (Finally!) He gets to create and let go of trying to figure out the nitty gritty. On Saturday we did another cash-and-check-only street fest. It’s Thursday, and we’ve already figured out how to add credit cards, made a to-do list of formalizing our partnership, and printed out the forms we need to get various licenses. By this time next week, we should have a legal entity. And without even noticing it, the foundation is laid. By the end of the summer, and by the end of all these craft shows we’re trying to get to, we might even have a couple corner posts reaching up to that castle in the air.

It’s a good day.

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One Response to “Thoreau and then some”

  1. Brian Love Says:

    Thanks for this great post. I am moved by how you have taken this simple yet vast philosophy from Thoreau and applied it to your circumstance. You have helped me to understand the same shifting of attention in my own life and that I am learning the same lessons. Sometimes, as you’ve noted we don’t even see that we are reshaping things until after we have already started. By imagining the impossible castle in the air, we help to make it a reality. How else would we know where the foundation belongs?


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