“I tell you that as long as I can conceive something better than myself I cannot be easy unless I am striving to bring it into existence or clearing the way for it. That is the law of my life. That is the working within me of Life’s incessant aspiration to higher organization, wider, deeper, intenser self-consciousness, and clearer self-understanding.” — George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
I understand old George, for I’m right with him on this point. When we hear the siren, when we strive for something better than ourselves, we begin a lifetime process of chipping away at the stubborn facade that hides that potential deep inside. What we don’t quite realize when we begin is just how tough a journey this can be. For it takes a lifetime, and even then some, for we never quite reach what we aspire to, do we?
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo
Is it any wonder most people just skate in their lane? Who needs to lump more pressure on themselves when we can just enjoy where we are? Well-meaning friends and family remind you to keep your blinders on and stick with what brought you here. We experience this most deeply in work, where we’re often thought of as who we were when we walked in the door, not who we become as we grow and learn. Isn’t that why so many change jobs?
We aren’t salmon in a fish farm, we have streams and oceans to explore! We have an opportunity—an obligation—to reinvent ourselves daily. To reach for something better than ourselves in all that we do. Life is a short game, unfair and fickle. We’ll all leave something on the table in the end. Don’t let it be that which means the most. Aspire for that which you might be, and do the work to set it free.