Becoming Equal to the Whole
“The problem with most people, he felt, is that they build artificial walls around subjects and ideas. The real thinker sees the connections, grasps the essence of the life force operating in every individual instance. Why should any individual stop at poetry, or find art unrelated to science, or narrow his or her intellectual interests? The mind was designed to connect things, like a loom that knits together all of the threads of a fabric. If life exists as an organic whole and cannot be separated into parts without losing a sense of the whole, then thinking should make itself equal to the whole.” – Robert Greene, describing Goethe, Mastery
This idea of making yourself equal to the whole through exploring all available interests, normally gets you tagged as unfocused or a Jack-of-all-trades (master of none). Such expansive thinking is regarded as inefficient by many. But let’s face it, the people with a wide range of interests are able to transcend the ordinary and create things that others might not see. They become visionaries.
We’re all just connecting the dots, trying to make sense of the world and our place in it. We are a part of that sum, and it’s okay to question what that part might be. What’s certain is that it’s our part, nobody else’s, and we ought to find a path that makes the most sense for ourselves. Everything we do, every pursuit, every relationship, every stumble along the way is a part of becoming whatever it is we’ll title the sum of our lifetime. That process of becoming is what life is all about.
Surely, we can never really equal the whole, but we can get pretty far down the path. And that’s about all you can hope for in one lifetime, isn’t it? To pursue our diverse interests as far as we can take them, and to contribute something back to those following their own paths towards that elusive whole. That’s what Goethe did, and Robert Greene is doing. Shouldn’t we too?