“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” – (Wendell Berry).
“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.” – (Ayn Rand).
Most of us give up somewhere along the way and accept what we call ‘reality’. We are similar to crabs in a bucket that will prevent one of their fellows from crawling out. Perhaps the idea that escape may provide a better option is a threat to mutual security or an admission that the only reassurance lies in the safety of numbers that have not run the gauntlet. Bourgeois crabs?
Hermann Hesse wrote in “Steppenwolf” about the Theatre of the Mind and the comfort zone of bourgeois society. Achieving greatness is a lonely journey that requires us to sacrifice what we are for what we can become. It’s a lot easier to forget about it and join the mob.
Our most valuable ability is to love, the penultimate is the ability to transform, not just the world around us but ourselves as well. This synergy is as intrinsic to our well-being as the air we breathe and the blood in our veins, to deny this alchemical aspect of our nature is to thwart our soul expression and manifests as despair and disease.
The good news is that it’s never too late to pick up the gauntlet, as Zorba the Greek famously said “sometimes, in life, you have to undo your belt and look for trouble”.
The slippers and fireside armchair will always be there if you fail.