Culture | Learning | Personal Growth | Philosophy | Writing

Towards Remarkable

“What is the purpose of writing? For me personally, it is really to explain the mystery of life, and the mystery of life includes, of course, the personal, the political, the forces that make us what we are while there’s another force from inside battling to make us something else.” – Nadine Gordimer

I don’t know much about Nadine Gordimer that you can’t find in her obituary or on Wikipedia. She was a South African writer who helped expose the darkness of apartheid for the world to see. She won a Nobel Prize for her writing and was on the short list of people that Nelson Mandela wanted to see first when he was released from prison. By all accounts she was a pretty remarkable woman.

“…with an understanding of Shakespeare there comes a release from the gullibility that makes you prey to the great shopkeeper who runs the world, and would sell you cheap to illusion.”

You know remarkable when you see it. There’s a life force exuding out of certain people that pulses. It’s not celebrity, though some celebrities, athletes and leaders have it (certainly not all). You learn to spot the authentic energy from the great shopkeepers and cons. It’s an intangible force from inside that is magnetic but genuine. People are drawn to them, because they see something in them that they haven’t quite let out of themselves.

“If I dreamt this, while walking, walking in the London streets, the subconscious of each and every other life, past and present, brushing me in passing, what makes it real? Writing it down.” 

I understand Nadine Gordimer better through her words. And in her words she shows us the way. Learn from the great observers of the past. Write it down (Rolf Potts recommends a “commonplace book” where you can record the best ideas you find – blogging certainly helps achieve this too). Keep improving over time. With patience but earnest effort.

“Your whole life you are really writing one book, which is an attempt to grasp the consciousness of your time and place – a single book written from different stages of your ability.” 

I’ve come to focus on remarkable recently. Having come across a few people with that extraordinary life force exuding out of every pore, you begin to think about how you might reach some level of that yourself. Gordimer hints at the journey we’re all on with this last quote. We’re all climbing at different paces, at different stages of our ability, towards our own peak. Towards remarkable.

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