Driving I-95 N. With Potential.

catch-hand-rain

It was some time ago.
Yet, it is now.

I’m heading home Friday afternoon after a long week and the story replays.
Not a sitcom. But a documentary.

The hotel ball room is tightly packed.
The lights dim.
600 eyeballs watch him amble onto the stage.

Blue sport coat. Gray slacks.
Black boots, clean, polished and up over the ankle.
He’s wearing a watch, a large face, a Patek Philipe.

He’s an Engineer, Inventor, Founder, Investor and VC.
And a new Father.
He’s a Silicon Valley giant. A Giant presence
And, still way on the right side of 50.

Q: China. Q: Europe. Q: U.S.
Q: IPOs. Q: Capital markets. Q: Private Markets.
Q: Innovation. Q: Disruption. Q: Cybersecurity.
Q: Facebook. Q: UBER. Q: Lift. Q: Twitter.
Q: Paypal. Q: Apple Pay. Q: Bitcoin.
Q: Regulation. Q: Politics.
Q: Philanthropy.
Q: Diversity.

A:… A:.. A:… A:… A:…A:… A:… A:…

Crisp responses. Stats to support. Colorful anecdotes.
He’s a Giant knife slicing through Butter.

Q:  Where do you find the time? You work. You travel. You write. You curate. You have a large social media following. Where do you get the ideas? Where do you get the content you curate?

A: “[…] I read. I read. I write. I curate. I post.”

He sat at the edge of his chair.
Iron board straight back.
Hands on his knees.
He had no notes.
But for a few questions, there were no pauses.
There was no reflection required.
His opinion previously formed.
Research was conducted and concluded.
The intellect was wide and deep.
The questions landed as cotton balls, dandelions.
He whisked them away, petals lifting, climbing, rising.

Q: How many hours of sleep do you get?
A: “…I only need a few hours…there’s a lot to do.”

Self-confident, Self-deprecating and driven. Trifecta.
He left the stage to thunderous applause.
And he left a Giant wake.
Weeks now for me.

What was this gnawing in the belly, this gnashing of the teeth?  This ping-ponging between an appreciation of his amazing talent and Adam Phillips’ Missing Out.  And Adam Phillips’ with his words, so many words of Truth, banging on a teletype chattering his diagnosis:

Our lives become an elegy to needs unmet and desires sacrificed, to possibilities refused, to roads not taken.

The myth of our potential can make of our lives a perpetual falling-short, a continual and continuing loss, a sustained and sometimes sustaining rage.

How would we know if we had realized our potential? Where did we get our picture of this potential from?

We have an abiding sense, however obscure and obscured, that the lives we do lead are informed by the lives that escape us. That our lives are defined by loss, but loss of what might have been; loss, that is, of things never experienced.

Now someone is asking us not only to survive but to flourish, not simply or solely to be good but to make the most of our lives. It is a quite different kind of demand.

We are always haunted by the myth of our potential, of what we might have it in ourselves to be or do.

So when we are not thinking, like the character in Randall Jarrell’s poem, that ‘The ways we miss our lives is life’, we are grieving or regretting or resenting our failure to be ourselves as we imagine we could be. We share our lives with the people we have failed to be.

The climb. The race. The chase.
This reaching, stretching, forever coming up short in catching this potential.
To what end?
The answer?
I’m sure it’s with Katrina Kenison:

How easy it is to miss the gift of who we are, because we’re so busy trying to become somebody else.


Notes:

Comments

  1. Repeat those words to your competitive self…who you are, what you have, the constellation within which you turn – it is magnificent. It is you. It is yours.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Exhausted.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad and happy for those people who do and are so much, who contribute and change and innovate. But they aren’t me. I don’t operate that way. I don’t care to. I can appreciate them, like art, but sill be content and please with the person I am and the small, quiet things I do.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sometimes, we are trying to be someone else simply because we didn’t pause enough to discover who we really are. Love the last quote. Great read. ☺

    Liked by 2 people

  5. i love this reflection. the ‘myth of our potential’ is just that. we are what we live. and we can miss the whole thing if we are not in the moment, but always looking ahead, looking for more. our real potential just is.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the post and respect the responses. For me there is a lot to think about in your post, in regards to what (is it ->) Adam Phillips?, speaks of. I think he speaks of grief.and living constantly in a state of grief and lack of, strength & self esteem…”Our lives become an elegy to needs unmet and desires sacrificed, to possibilities refused, to roads not taken” .We all make decisions, sometimes informed and sometimes not. Sometimes the decisions we make will affect only ourselves ( or so we think, initially as we connect with people new to us, often and our conduct will affect them in some way) where other times we must consider the impact on others. (family members, other loved ones, employers, etc) Stand, is what we do, at crossroads along our journeys and we must “Live and Learn” from those decisions we made…not dwell in them…life has many struggles that teach…we grow and gain within the many Seasons of Life…
    “Now someone is asking us not only to survive but to flourish, not simply or solely to be good but to make the most of our lives. It is a quite different kind of demand.” who is this Someone, that pushes us? Is it not the influence of Society and our Own Inner Self? The decision is, in which way will one Allow this demand to take them…
    “We are always haunted by the myth of our potential, of what we might have it in ourselves to be or do” I think, What he says is a broad assumption. To be haunted –>This is a choice not a fact….
    I further think his expertise is framed in current American society and the ills of living a life based on keeping up with the “Jones’s”. I think that indigenous people who have had limited or no contact with the outside global-ness of the world, perhaps they don’t worry about failure. They live in they way they were immersed, cooperating for greater good of the community…while retaining their individual Independence and community interdependent and intradependent…
    “How easy it is to miss the gift of who we are, because we’re so busy trying to become somebody else” … Yes, when people don’t Allow themselves to live in freedom and contentment, with an integrity, in which one can be responsive, kind, open hearted, vulnerable, attempting self sufficiency & simplistic-ness , learning from failure and continuing to rise above. Then they do not always see what gifts are granted them…they falter.
    For me I have a yardstick for measurement laid out by God.. and when I don’t get in His way, but follow his guiding light, He refines my Soul…a choice totally my own…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. forgot to include gratitude

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A wonderful thought filled post. Beautiful words as always. To just be, with what is, naturally. Sounds easier doesn’t it? So why we keep doing the opposite??

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I didn’t know what to say but I found I liked the comments and your responses so I just wandered through and “liked.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So much food for thought here.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is very good writing, I was brought there…and have dealt with such a wake too. This also brings to mind how we tried to define (!!) and spot potential in the early and mid 90s. What a waste of effort. It’s totally a myth. And Kenison has a good answer.

    Liked by 1 person

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