Monday, March 17, 2014

Thank Goodness It's Monday #452


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) isn’t the most “Irish” name to invoke as the official day of St. Paddy pride and celebration rolls around.

Still, as every at-least-once-a-year connector to the old sod – from President O’Bama to me – knows:

Today’s the day when everyone’s allowed the honor of being Irish.

So as TGIM continues to share the wisdom and inspiration from A Volume of Contentment from 1920, it seemed fitting to pick a page with a message particularly appropriate to the St. Paddy’s Day as well as the Thank Goodness It’s Monday spirit.

What better then than a thought about “blessings” and “being blessed” in life?

A blessing can be defined as the infusion of something with a kind of holiness or spiritual redemption. It can also refer to the bestowing of such a, well, blessing. Stated more prosaically, the idea of giving or receiving a blessing is about sharing and conveying one's hope or approval.

Wikipedia tells us: The modern English language “bless” probably comes from the Middle Ages term blessen.  Earlier still, language experts say, it all traces back to variations in the Anglo-Saxon pagan period meaning “to make sacred or holy by a sacrificial custom.” And those origins are rooted in Germanic paganism; a word meaning “to mark with blood.” 

A St. Pat’s connection: The modern meaning of the term may have been influenced in translations of the Bible into Old English during the process of Christianization to translate the Latin term benedīcere meaning to “speak well of,” resulting in meanings such as to “praise” or “extol” or “to speak of or to wish well.

Wearin’ o the green. What makes a blessing “Irish” then is not necessarily much more than the nationality of the blesser/blessed or, perhaps, being delivered/received on St. Patrick’s Day, the date itself giving the blessing Irish Power.

And with Germanic origins for the idea of blessing, Goethe’s got enough bonus cred to make the “Irish Blessing” cut today.
Honorary Irishman or not, Goethe led –

A blessed life. He was the originator of many ideas which later became widespread. Certainly, by his standard, he thought himself blessed -- liking many, many things and doing them so well his activities, accomplishments and legacy across many disciplines are acknowledged and endure worldwide.

  • He was a politician, nobleman, and military tactician.
  • As a scientific thinker he shared a theory of colors and early work on evolution and linguistics.
  • He was fascinated by mineralogy, and the mineral goethite (iron oxide) is named after him.
  • He produced volumes of poetry, essays, criticism and drama.
  • Writing fiction he produced what is considered by many the world’s first “bestseller (The Sorrows of Young Werther) as well as poetry and drama.
  • His non-fiction writings, most of which are philosophical and aphoristic in nature, spurred the development of many seeking greater truth and insight.
Clearly Goethe’s sense of inquiry, wonder and enthusiasm for many of the things he both “had to do” and “liked to do” filled his days and life with pleasure and sped him on to his many accomplishments.

So, with our Goethe excerpt in mind, here’s an evergreen TGIM --
ST. PATRICK'S DAY CHALLENGE: When I look at my daily or weekly “To Do” list, do I like what I have to do? When I step back and look at the big picture of my life, am I doing what I like to do?

On a day of celebration like St. Pat’s it may be easy to spot a bunch of fun things that qualify as “like to do.” But every part of every day can’t be green beer (or green bagels; what’s up with that?) shamrocks, and jolly greetings. 

TGIM ACTION IDEA: Follow Goethe’s personal example and quotable wisdom to make yourself worthy and ready for the blessings you give and get today. Stretch yourself to find the things you really like to do. Then do them. Build your skills until accomplishing even the most difficult parts of what you do are pleasantly challenging and “likeable.” 

Then perhaps you’ll reap the substance of the classic (and authentic) Irish Blessing:

Go n-eírí an bóthar leat.
May the road rise with you.

Hope you’re liking what we’re doing and sharing here.
I’m liking doing it.

Geoff Steck
Chief Catalyst
Alexander Publishing & Marketing
8 Depot Square
Englewood, NJ 07631

P.S.  Click, cut, copy, share this version of Goethe’s ideal of a blessed life if it appeals to you. And let us know what you think of it, either way.

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