I kid you not, at the very moment that I was reading that quote in that particular section of The Art Spirit, my son was wadding up a piece of paper, throwing his arms victoriously above his head and announcing to his brother with great joy, "Done!"
He was working on a school project on the subject of Abraham Lincoln and it had taken him weeks of research and reading and writing and typing (and a few bouts of frustration) to finally get to this point where he could announce it complete. He was wadding up the paper with the type-o's. Getting rid of the mistakes. Knowing full well that the very word needed to mark his victory was simply the word, "Done."
When he said it I couldn't help, but read Robert Henri's words to him, to which he replied, "That's a secret message!"
Watching him take on this task that was, in my opinion, a bit over his grade level, was a sight to behold. Not so much in the finesse of how he did it, but merely in the fact that he did do it. He took it on as a worthy task and dared to see if he was capable of it. When my heart leapt at his proclamation of doneness, I saw that Robert Henri had given us the perfect words at the perfect time. For what we were celebrating was a beauty that had been interwoven into the action of his doing. The beauty shone forth when the task was complete.
As he gave a trial run of his speech and presentation for me and my 3 other kids and our dog in our dining room I felt my eyes well up with tears. I will say In the culmination I could see something I never saw during the messy and rather cumbersome up-close process. The end result was a sight to behold and the celebration is that he decided to do it, and he did it and did it and did it until he felt it was done. By his doing, something existed before us that didn't before. A project, yes, but also a boy that had grown, changed and gained confidence through the doing. He didn't set out to do it beautifully, if anything the setting out was done in fits and starts and anger and sadness, but it was evident beauty was there, before me in the done-ness.