I happened upon an intriguing little article, the other day, which asked whether or not you’re meant for something bigger, on this planet. Well, we all are, but I thought it was an interesting series of questions, nevertheless. People are capable of all sorts of amazing things, but there is often a huge difference between what they are capable of and what they actually accomplish. That’s an interesting disparity, don’t you think?
It’s my view that sorcerers and alchemists are people that are primarily interested in using their powers, whatever they are (art, science, engineering, ideas, philosophy, values, morals), to create change – to cause a difference. In the modern sense, those that fulfil on their potential are those that accomplish the most and can be thought of as present day sorcerers or alchemists. They envisage the world as it could be and set about turning it into that better place. What is a vision, other than the articulation of an idea you have fallen in love with, after all?
I’ve written before that art has magical, transformative powers and that wielding art well is one of the most effective means of improving the world we live in, either by increments or by dramatic revolutions of thought and attitude. At the heart of most human ills is an idea that no longer serves humanity well (if it ever did), which requires revision or replacement. This is always true. All that holds us back, as a species, is the crappy things we think. Make better art; think better thoughts and suddenly, the world transforms into something better. How many are willing to revise what they think, though?
It surprises me that people hold so tenaciously to beliefs they formed based on dubious sources, many of which had conflicted interests with their disciples. Yet, although we are too apt to take on falsehoods as unshakeable truths, we are also willing to defend a falsehood to the very death, rather than hear the truth, or even entertain an alternative view. Entrenched ideas – bad ideas – are what make the world a rotten place to live in. Take those away, or change them and suddenly everything is better.
Of course, anybody that presents an imaginative, alternative possibility to the orthodoxy, defended as it is as “the only possible choice”, encounters people that call themselves realists. Realists posit that change is not possible, that all alternatives have already been considered and rejected as unworkable and as admittedly imperfect and flawed as the orthodoxy is, it is the least worst of all choices. This position is, of course, fanciful nonsense. There is nothing realistic about it at all. In failing to believe in the impossible, all the so-called realist ensures is that they never achieve the improbable.
We’ve seen a bit of this quite recently, with the rise to prominence of Jeremy Corbyn, in the UK. All of the establishment figures adopt precisely the line of defence, for their ideals, that I outlined above. Their accusation is that the alternatives being presented are unworkable and impossible, whereas the reality of the situation is that imaginative possibilities are being presented before their very eyes, but they would rather defend their discredited, rotten ideas to the death, than even admit that the alternatives might be better for all.
Are you one of those people that are destined to be a modern day alchemist or sorcerer? See if these observations apply to you. They did to me and I suspect they do to most people.
- You’re not a natural follower – you don’t find great fulfilment or purpose in working for others. Rather, it stifles, inhibits, constrains, and frustrates you. You’d rather be leading than following and you know it. You often feel stuck and like you’re not accomplishing anything big or worthwhile, in your job. All the while, you hunger for freedom, autonomy, flexibility, creativity and expansion, which seems impossible (or tediously slow), while working under orders. You want to stand out, more than you’re interested in fitting in. You know you have a vision of something bigger and that the vision has real value. Getting to apply all your gifts is the only way you feel you will be fully satisfied. Polymaths often feel this way. I often experience this claustrophobic feeling, too. Do you?
- You do your best work when you feel inspired – for some people, this amounts to self-sabotaging procrastination. You won’t move forward, until you really feel you can. For other, more disciplined artists, inspiration comes from the doing. If you apply yourself to your task with sincerity and dedication, then you gradually build the inspiration to do your most outstanding work. While you might be obliged to produce something, you can do so by almost phoning it in, but if you are truly gifted and meant for bigger things, you will almost certainly build the momentum of your creative work to a point where the obligation is no longer the most important thing. What matters most, to you, is getting to a point where your most accomplished work simply flows out from you, because you have reached a point of inspiration that makes it inevitable. You use your inspiration, built from just showing up and getting on with it, to reach your potential. It becomes something about personal integrity, more than it is about fulfilling on an order.
- As a child, you thought those conformists that put on their work costumes and went in to a job, every day, were crazy – you could sense that they were not going there to play, or to follow their curiosity or to spend their time in personal improvement and development. You knew they had checked out of their daydreams and imaginations and instead, were in full-on zombie mode, doing what was expected of them, semi-robotically, so that they could sustain their life on Earth. You knew they were caught in a trap and that its machinery was crushing the life and soul out of them. While they justified their behaviour on the grounds that it was a safe and secure existence, you knew in your heart that it was nothing of the sort, that they had been hoodwinked into it and given that money was no longer an object, they’d all be doing something more outstanding and more fulfilling, of greater value to humanity. You also probably intuitively sensed that if you were to make a difference to the world, you would need more freedom and flexibility than all those nine to five slaves had. One other thing that you were certain of was that the work costumes (suits, uniforms, insignia of rank, etc.) were mere facades and that behind each costume lurked an actual human being, stifled in their creative powers and willing to act in ways divorced from and at odds with their most cherished morals and values. They were owned. They were just doing their jobs.
- You love what you do so much, you wouldn’t care if you had to do it for free – nobody pays you to play, or to research and read, or to have imaginative ideas, or to daydream, plot, plan, design, when you’re a kid. You do what you do for the sheer existential pleasure of doing it. As an adult, if you gravitate to work and occupations where the time you spend seems to melt away into something you don’t even notice and where you feel like getting paid for it is like receiving free money, then you know what you do is what you love to do. Money isn’t even on your mind. What you care about is the work. Time spent on it is never wasted. Ironically, this leaves you open to exploitation. Others will try to undervalue your very valuable work, because you love it so much, you’d happily do it whether or not you were paid. If they can get it for nothing, they think, then they’re winning. In truth, though, if you were able to value your work at what it was really worth, to others, and charge accordingly, then those who receive your work actually get more value. Stealing your work from you simply degrades it for everyone.
- As an idealist, you see the world at its best, as it could be and you devote yourself to getting it there – “idealist” has become a pejorative term, in the same category as “dreamer” and “conspiracy theorist”. Idealists are thought to have something wrong with them. What people mean, when they accuse you of being an idealist, is that you’ll never get it done. You won’t be able to effect the big changes you seek. Your quest is quixotic and hopeless. In their world view, the world was never meant to be as pleasant, amazing and fun as it is in your imagination of it. As if such things were pre-ordained. Your response, as an idealist, is to organise your own personal world to be worthy of your vision and creations. You lead by example, in the hope that one day the whole world can be changed to follow your pattern of better. Idealist is, in fact, just another word for creator.
- Sometimes, you know things intuitively, but you can’t explain to others how you know them – yet you know. With certainty. Visionaries get their visions from an internal sense of what feels right. They don’t get them because somebody ordered them to think up a vision. It’s not about what they’re supposed to create, according to other people’s idea of which creations are acceptable; it’s about an inner drive to follow your intuition about what’s going to be better. I’ve spent a lot of time learning to trust my senses, intuition and gut feelings more than I used to. I have found them to be, on the whole, quite reliable guides. Before, when I rejected intuition and relied on rationality alone, I found I missed a lot. In hindsight, my intuition had been right all along. If you are meant for bigger things, in this world, then your intuition will keep speaking up and asking for what it wants. Creating big things is not optional, when it’s your manifest destiny, as described by your intuition. Following your intuition has a lot to do with unlocking and heeding your unconscious intelligence, I think. There is a part of your brain that thinks about things, without a constant narrative, spoken internally to your consciousness, but which nevertheless produces results that are well observed, well reasoned and valuable, even if you aren’t cognisant of the processes by which those conclusions were reached.
- You feel things with intensity – you feel things pretty deeply and that usually means you care about some things with more than the usual level of commitment. Throughout your childhood, especially at school, you will have been taught to ignore and suppress your feelings. The orthodox view is that feelings and emotions will sabotage any attempts you will make to be awesome. The ugly truth, though, is that the suppression of feelings is just a technique to get people, that otherwise wouldn’t, to do the unconscionable, on behalf of those that want it done, by others, so that they can keep their own hands clean. It’s more than ok to feel. It’s human. Feelings are our truth. Your ability to be big, to contribute to the world in a huge way and to create large, lasting changes depends ultimately on your truth and integrity. What you feel and care about is what creates that personal truth. Everything you ever make or create depends crucially on what you feel and how you feel. Feel intensely with pride.
- You are more frustrated by having too many ideas, than by not having any at all – this is me to a tee. I have so many big, wonderful ideas that I scarcely ever get to articulate them all, let alone accomplish them. One life isn’t long enough. You tend to get inspired easily. Great ideas occur to you frequently. The problem is you can feel so overwhelmed by the enormity and number of your big ideas, that you feel helpless to progress any of them. The hard part is remaining true to your vision, making progress with your ideas, prioritising those that are most important to you, so that your vision becomes reality. There is never the perfect time and it’s never too late. You also might have to enlist help to realise those big ideas. What you shouldn’t do is let them wither and die, if you can help it.
If you’ve read this far, you might be saying, “That’s all well and good. It’s me and I recognise myself in the descriptions, but how do I move forward? How do I make those big changes I am destined to make?”
What next? How do you progress toward the goal of doing something great, worthwhile and valuable to humanity? What if the big idea is going to take changing a lot of minds, before it becomes reality? You can be the change you seek, but what if the change you seek is much bigger than you alone?
Sadly, there are no guarantees. All you can do is to keep trying. Trust in your vision and intuition and take steps, daily, to move forward with it. They might be tiny steps, but take them anyway. They mount up. If you can’t tell the whole story, write the next chapter, or at least outline the plot. Increments matter. Whatever you do, do it with love. It’s the best you can do.