Potential

As soon as I put down my computer, turned off the TV show I was watching, and sat with myself and classical music I felt the itch in my fingers–the itch to write. I pulled my computer back out and started. Then, I was fine.

As Steven Pressfield puts it: “What finally convinced me to go ahead was simply that I was so unhappy not going ahead. I was developing symptoms. As soon as I sat down and began, I was okay.”

I’m convinced that there’s always a moment when everything feels impossible. And I’m convinced that it’s fake. Well, not fake, as much as self-fabricated. Each of us has potential beyond what we believe and all it takes is reaching for it, truly reaching. Dreams are waiting above us. Believe in possibility, believe in yourself, and take action.

As I write this, I realize that smarter, older, and wiser people than I have said what I am trying to say much better than I can, so here are some quotes to chew on:

“You are more powerful than you think you are. Act accordingly.”

Seth Godin Source

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. 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 in his book, Walden

“FEAR

Resistance feeds on fear. We experience Resistance as fear. But fear of what?

Fear of the consequences of following our heart. Fear of bankruptcy, fear of poverty, fear of insolvency. Fear of groveling when we try to make it on our own, and of groveling when we give up and come crawling back to where we started. Fear of being selfish, of being rotten wives or disloyal husbands; fear of failing to support our families, of sacrificing their dreams for ours. Fear of betraying our race, our ‘hood, our homies. Fear of failure. Fear of being ridiculous. Fear of throwing away the education, the training, the preparation that those we love have sacrificed so much for, that we ourselves have worked our butts off for. Fear of launching into the void, of hurtling too far out there; fear of passing some point of no return, beyond which we cannot recant, cannot reverse, cannot rescind, but must live with this cocked-up choice for the rest of our lives. Fear of madness. Fear of insanity. Fear of death. 

These are serious fears. But they’re not the real fear. Not the Master Fear, the Mother of all Fears that’s so close to us that even when we verbalize it we don’t believe it. 

Fear That We Will Succeed. 

That we can access the powers we secretly know we possess. 

That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are. 

This is the most terrifying prospect a human being can face, because it ejects him at one go ( he imagines ) from all the tribal inclusions his psyche is wired for and has been for fifty million years. 

We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous. 

We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold on to. 

Of course this is exactly what happens. But here’s the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship. Yeah, we lose friends. But we find friends too, in places we never thought to look. And they’re better friends, truer friends. And we’re better and truer to them.

Do you believe me?”

Steven Pressfield in his book, The War Of Art

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

Les Brown

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Frank Herbert from his book, Dune

“Be 110% in. The worst thing to do it be 50 in 50 out. Be in all the way and commit. If you don’t like something, finish it and then pivot.”

Paraphrased from a friend named Hayley

… 

I could go on but I will leave you with a quote I wrote and some final words.

Minutes become hours.
As the past devours,
The seconds I let slip away.

Away to the breeze,
Lost in the sea.
My seconds have gone.

And yet I wait,
For the grip of the moment,
To tear me from now,
And gift me with a cure,
For my complacency.

All I can say is don’t let the shitstorm of your own inhibitions drag you down. You can beat your fear, you can be the best possible version of yourself. In fact, you already are. Stop procrastinating and just be you.

Today, through the medium of my little sister my step-dad explained to me that perfection is not a standard but a realization. I would add that it is a realization that can be chosen.

A final quote to finish: The Introduction of The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Ben Zander.

BEN: “Waiter,” I said, in an exuberant mood, “I have a perfect life, but I don’t have a knife.”

I was having breakfast with a friend on one of my periodic visits to London to conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra. I heard giggles behind me and, turning around, caught the eye of a girl of about twelve with a typically English pudding-bowl haircut. We exchanged smiles, and then I went back to my conversation and to my breakfast.

The next day, I passed the young lady again in the breakfast room and stopped to speak with her.

“Good morning. How are you today?”

She drew herself up ever so slightly and, with a tilt to her chin and a sparkle in her eye, answered me.

“Perfect,” she said.

Later, when she was leaving with her parents, I called out mischievously, “Have a perfect day!”

“I will!” she responded, as though it were the easiest, most obvious choice in the world.

And with that, she sailed out into a universe of possibility.”

4 Comments on “Potential

  1. Interesting…never thought of perfection as a choice. Has to do with being present I think and allowing yourself to realize that where you are and what you’re doing is perfect for who you are and what you’re becoming maybe? But I find a sort of constant battle between being content in the present and using that as an excuse not to reach for more…

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      • Yeah, idk. Like we’ve talked about before: I’m not sure that contentment is the right idea for this conversation. Contentment to me is not great. It’s usually downward or level-facing. Being grateful for the present is both accepting of the now and helps us look up towards the future. So gratitude is better than contentment, but really it’s all semantics.

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  2. Yeah true. I guess that’s a matter of word choice lol I just never had a better way of putting it I think. But that’s why I liked the perfection idea 👍🏼

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