I have sometimes limited my focus on my perspectives in life, and have often become caught up in a stream of events that I might not have anticipated. If my decisions about how to behave in the world are not aligned to my aspirations, I will surely disappoint my vigilant intuitions. Ultimately I reason that the mind is the charioteer of the will, the reflexive unconscious and gut, and the feelings of the heart that impels our behavior in the world. But if we do not have a balance of these integral human motivating agencies, then we find ourselves beguiled and possibly left empty. Precisely where we have a greater capacity for “possibility thinking” and achievement lies predominantly within the realm of the mind. Those who do not stride forward with their life’s ambitions often have failed to sail toward a once planned venture. They are rudderless, and follow a current that may lead them to unexpected courses in their voyages.
Plato’s Charioteer Tripartite Mind
1) Mind: Charioteer
2) White Noble Horse on Right: Spirit
3) Black Ugly Horse on Left: Appetites
Listening and acting on the advice from others and not acknowledging our own hearts may be a lifelong undertaking that leads us to misadventure. When reaching for greener pastures, we ought not to overlook that which is right in front of us. We become dissuaded and influenced by those around us, as we begin to doubt our own capabilities and ambitions which tend to slowly diffuse and disassemble as if they had never existed. The passion once felt is shrouded deep within our former selves replaced by other transitional interests that cover the deeper longings of our hearts. I have an affinity to what Henry David Thoreau set out to discover on his stay at Walden Pond.
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
American philosopher and naturalist Thoreau isolated himself at Walden Pond in Massachusetts from 1845 to 1847. His experiences during that time are published in Walden (1854), which Thornton Wilder called “a manual of self-reliance.” In a well-known passage, Thoreau stated his purpose: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation…” In the first essay, “Economy,” Thoreau comments that most men are slaves to their work and enslaved to those for whom they work. He concludes: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation….”
If we embrace our heart, activate our resolve and nourish the potential of our minds, we create a force that is so powerful, the world of possibility becomes exponentially larger. But why do we not follow our “gut” feelings, and we delude our better judgements? Much of this comes from listening to external sources, and all too often from our own voice of self-doubt. We disband our goal to unify our lives with our passions by accident or by misdirection of an immersed ego caught up in a distraction filled world.
When we take a path with the least resistance, we may misplace our heart’s desires with a surrogate. Our lives are tempered with contention that customarily helps us find a quintessence in contrast to the banalities met in a lifetime. We must never allow ourselves to detach from possibility! Fortuity can be a life renewing salvation or equitably a life saving virtue if we are cognizant of it. The first step is taken when we recognize this dynamic in the equation. First and foremost, we must be open for opportunity. We must be receptive and keen to providential forces that dwell within our mortality.
But what creates possibility? The most satisfying creation comes from our own doing even if it is initiated indirectly; such as the consequence of our own talents which may open opportune doors to us. There exists possibilities that we are aware of, and those we are unaware of. There exists possibilities that we may never actualize, and those that we may never appreciate because we are caught up in other distractions or have distorted the inner balance within our minds.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
I’ve realized that I must aspire to create a cohesion between the mind and the feeling centers of my being. I usually operate on an intellectual level better than the emotional level because it comes to me more easily. Ironically I show great depth of empathy for others yet I fail to sometimes envision my own deeper feelings and emotive motivators that direct me. In establishing a cohesion with all of these forces is the challenge to be reconciled. This could be a daily routine, and with practice one can hope to achieve the balance necessary to bring about change in one’s life that aligns with a true self image. I ask of myself only for patience and dedication, as the rest will take care of itself! I say unto you live a life of possibility, and you will realize the intention you set out to do.
Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Its not every day we become inspired about something we have seen, heard, or read about and decided to act on that illumination. An inspiration that leads us to new discoveries and direction in our lives is a moment when we can embrace our values and challenge our spirit. Inspiration to take part in an activity or a personal decision on how we shall live our lives by a newly acknowledged creed is a rarity when it is carried out in practice. I can remember distinct times when I have become motivated by something that sparked my attention and the resulting effect has remained with me for years to come. Why these single moments of attention direct us to connect to something that enliven our experience of the world is essentially a wonderful and mysterious event, yet it is also sometimes a puzzling one since we do not always know the exact reasons for our interest in them.
We are often attracted to the charisma of people we are inspired by, or possibly the skill they have in their performance of some gifted ability that takes our interest. It could be a special circumstance that one has endured which led them to discover something about their character that brings out our piety. Whichever the case, the world has many illustrations of people, groups of people, and even cultures that stirs the emotive fabric within us.
An instance in my life is the connection I felt when I first listened to the blues. It was the first music that really “spoke to me” on a more meaningful level than other types of music that I had been exposed to. Initially I became influenced through my interest in other forms of music that also took their roots in the blues, before I actually recognized some of the earlier American pioneers. These influences also were previously revealed by my favorite guitar players thereby discovering the link of that influence. A specific interpretation of the blues through Great Britain with bands from the British Invasion reignited the interest in the blues for newer generations of youths as it had done so for me. My earlier influences of country, pop, and rock music, my interest in the guitar, my ability for empathy, and my personal outlook became the amalgam for a passion and inspiration that directly fed this stimulus. Understandably a process usually develops in this relationship such as; learning more about the topic, expanding your influences and further researching your subject, an increasing amount of participation, creating and building your own style or ability, and practicing and developing your craft are all personifications demonstrating that you have channeled this inspiration.
The simplest of games sometimes becomes the springboard for a dynamic passion that becomes a lifetime resolution. The factors that determine such innovations must meet more than just any ordinary arbitration’s of the mind and must have a certain resolve of purpose. These must somehow take grasp within our minds and spark something that awakens a passion for it to take hold and develop. Those passions that cannot truly be traceable to their origins because they capture the person from a surprise vantage point and tend to be mysterious to the observer often go unreflected. A viewpoint that has no expectation of their interest from first glance may just be the starting point for a spark to ignite something else unknown inside a person’s mind.
Unfortunately my thought is that many of us do not become inspired or do not hold the formula to launch their inspirations into action. The human spirit can also be hindered if certain conditions are not met for the individual. I see inestimable accounts of people not actuating their potentials due to the limitations of resources or simply just due to the impoverished states of their being. It may be that the psychological dispositions of many will impede any real progress within themselves. The levels of disintegration within our culture alone is worrisome when the topic of personal development comes to mind. The ramifications for misplaced civil atonement’s may also be the distraction some people are challenged by. The world is full of people who do not achieve their passion due to the limitations they place upon their ability for whatever the reasons. For a large part of the population, I trust that we as individuals are responsible for the psychological blockades we place on ourselves if we are fortunate enough to live in an environment that provides us with basic human rights. But the tenacity and fortitude of our determination and spirit still exists no matter what the circumstances of our condition and surroundings.
There are many examples of stories worldwide with many backdrops of social constructs and socioeconomic backgrounds that give precedent to show just how powerful the human spirit is. A case in point is to return to the origins of the blues.
The social and economic reasons for the appearance of the blues are not fully known.Blues has evolved from an unaccompanied vocal music of poor black laborers into a variety of styles and sub-genres, with regional variations across the United States. The first appearance of the blues is not well-defined and is often dated between 1870 and 1900, a period that coincides with the emancipation of the African-American slaves and the transition from slavery to sharecropping and small-scale agricultural production in the southern United States.
The generations of abuse and mistreatment, the limitations of education, and the forced subjugation to social stigmas and ignorance has resulted in the emotive distillation of a human spirit that’s outcry was later heard all over the world. The magnitude of this voice heard in blues music by a people who had tolerated so much for so long has ironically descended upon and affected the world at large, and inspired many of us for many reasons along the way. I find it especially interesting that even under such pernicious circumstances, the emergence of the human spirit still emote a voice with echos of vindication, even after the repression and suppression on such a massive scale. You can impose and enslave a people, but it is extremely difficult to enslave the mind.
Henry David Thoreau pointed out in Walden that…“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them. Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine. How can he remember well his ignorance — which his growth requires — who has so often to use his knowledge? We should feed and clothe him gratuitously sometimes, and recruit him with our cordials, before we judge of him. The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.”
“Some of you, we all know, are poor, find it hard to live, are sometimes, as it were, gasping for breath. I have no doubt that some of you who read this book are unable to pay for all the dinners which you have actually eaten, or for the coats and shoes which are fast wearing or are already worn out, and have come to this page to spend borrowed or stolen time, robbing your creditors of an hour. It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live, for my sight has been whetted by experience; always on the limits, trying to get into business and trying to get out of debt, a very ancient slough, called by the Latins æs alienum, another’s brass, for some of their coins were made of brass; still living, and dying, and buried by this other’s brass; always promising to pay, promising to pay, tomorrow, and dying today, insolvent; seeking to curry favor, to get custom, by how many modes, only not state-prison offenses; lying, flattering, voting, contracting yourselves into a nutshell of civility or dilating into an atmosphere of thin and vaporous generosity, that you may persuade your neighbor to let you make his shoes, or his hat, or his coat, or his carriage, or import his groceries for him; making yourselves sick, that you may lay up something against a sick day, something to be tucked away in an old chest, or in a stocking behind the plastering, or, more safely, in the brick bank; no matter where, no matter how much or how little.”
Henry David Thoreau famously stated in Walden that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” He thinks misplaced value is the cause: We feel a void in our lives, and we attempt to fill it with things like money, possessions, and accolades. We think these things will make us happy. When they don’t, we just seek more of them.
Thoreau argues that the value we attach to possessions and status is misplaced. They aren’t the key to happiness, and they may hurt more than they help. To him, happiness lies instead in a simple life stripped to the essentials. To find it, we must shed our false values and live austerely, with no luxury and only meager comforts. Thoreau attempted to do just that in his minimalist excursion at Walden Pond.
Thoreau’s basically right: Misplaced value contributes to “quiet desperation.” But it’s not the end of the story: it’s possible to value all the right things and still lead a quietly desperate life. What Thoreau’s missing is resignation. We lead lives of quiet desperation when we resign ourselves to dissatisfaction. Quiet desperation is acceptance of–and surrendering to–circumstances. Quietly desperate lives are frustrated, passive, and apathetic. They’re unfulfilled and unrealized.
So Thoreau saw most of the society of Concord as being unjust and burdensome. However, he also makes the case in Walden, correctly or not, that most people are creating their own problems, by subscribing to society’s burdensome rules when they don’t have to.
I think that most parents would want their children to be inspired and enrich their lives by following a dream. Following a passion that sustains goals and in turn inspires others in their lives is essential for growth and fulfillment. There is a fundamental human desire that compels us to aspire. I ask you, what do you dream about? What inspires you? Think about this from time to time. Many of us sometimes forget just what an impact it may have on us, our families and our children.
“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
― Albert Schweitzer
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”
― Rabindranath Tagore
“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”
“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.”
― Ayn Rand
“Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”
― Leo Buscaglia
“He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.” – The Buddha –
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – The Buddha –
“Just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise or blame.”- The Buddha –
“Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.”
– The Buddha –
NOTE: This post was reissued due to the disruption of a WordPress server error. I have rewritten from memory the basics previously published from 5 days prior to this posting. It is unfortunate that I lost that post, my apologies to the reader, I tried to do justice in this post.