Powerful Words

“For the rest of history, for most of us, our bright promise will always fall short of being actualised; it will never earn us bountiful sums of money or beget exemplary objects or organisations….

Most of us stand poised at the edge of brilliance, haunted by the knowledge of our proximity, yet still demonstrably on the wrong side of the line, our dealings with reality undermined by a range of minor yet critical psychological flaws (a little too much optimism, an unprocessed rebelliousness, a fatal impatience or sentimentality). We are like an exquisite high-speed aircraft which for lack of a tiny part is left stranded beside the runway, rendered slower than a tractor or a bicycle.”
― Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

I’m doing some work on Conscious Aging, and when I ran across these words they slammed me like the voice of truth.  Interesting.

The next question, of course, is “So what?”  What does that mean for me and my life?  Or you and yours?

15 thoughts on “Powerful Words

  1. Oh Boy. There is an old Peanuts cartoon wherein Charlie Brown bemoans that “There is no heavier burden than a great potential.”
    I have to take my focus away from the riches, recognition, or accolades. People Magazine will not do a cover story about me.
    But I can do the things I do well, like swimming when I don’t want to swim, or shining my boots, with focus and purpose.
    I think of the Little Flower, St Therese´ of Lisieux, who wrote of doing little things as acts of devotion to God.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t know, ” Most of us stand poised at the edge of brilliance” that is a pretty BIG assumption. And perhaps what some ‘might’ see wrong with society as a whole. Sure we are all ‘special snowflakes’ but that doesn’t mean we all are poised for brilliance- and of course it goes without saying that brilliance is subjective as well.

    Sheesh I don’t mean to be pessimistic. LOL. I guess in my idealistic, over simplistic way of thinking is I believe we all stand poised to be the best version of ourselves and many of us face obstacles;whether past history, fear, inner strength, lack of realization- whatnot to achieve that

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think you’re being pessimistic! But I think you and I see the world so differently it can be hard for us to share a viewpoint. I think that everyone is special, and we are all more alike than we realize. I don’t think the problem is that people think they’re “special snowflakes,” it’s that too often they’re told they’re not different and not treated as if they matter. Calling people “special snowflakes” and considering that the problem is sometimes a way to shame them into not asking for what they need.

      So I hear what you’re saying, and to some extent agree with you. So how do you know what that “best version of yourself” would be? How do you know how to recognize when you’ve reached that?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’ t believe I said we all weren’t special. At least that wasn’t my intent. I am also unaware of how I have actually shown you how I think of the world other than my submission comments.

        I have a child that is different. I have grown up ‘different’. So to assume ( if you have) that I don’t embrace the differences or that the differences aren’t important is far from what I wanted to point out or express.. I did say, “I don’t know, ” Most of us stand poised at the edge of brilliance” is a pretty big assumption.” I am not one to shut down anyone’s dreams realistic or not, but there are some very self entitled individuals out there who have a higher opinion of themselves and by them having that CAN be an issue for those around them. I was thinking of a few people I know personally when I commented initially.

        Do I believe we can all achieve great things in life? Sure. But as I said concerning brilliance, to me ‘great’ is subjective.

        As for your last question, I have honestly felt very close at times, in the past to the best version of myself. Did that mean I was perfect? No but it did mean to me I was so authentic that anything I did, thought etc was without a doubt the best I could do in that situation. Doesn’t mean I didn’t fail at times, nor did it mean I was arrogant concerning my actions. It merely meant that I was accepting of it all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And I apologize for misunderstanding what you were saying on so many levels. I felt like you didn’t understand what I was saying, and I was trying not to be defensive, but probably was. So it makes sense that I didn’t understand what you were saying. I’m sorry.


      • OH no apologizes necessary, I often screw up my point in the written word and people read it differently than I intend. I come from a family that loves to debate, and have a tendency to present the other side, of a discussion, whether it is my belief or not. More like thinking out loud at times. Generally speaking I usually believe there is more than one way to see a ‘point’ and I like to explore that. Nothing more.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah.
    If you want fame and fortune or to own a fortune 500 company and all the hoopla that goes along with that and never achieve it, then maybe those words would be true for you but it leaves a lot out, I think

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, or if you wanted to be a writer or an actor or the scientist who discovered the cure for cancer or an activist who brings groups of people together for peace or an amazing healer or all kinds of other things. There’s all of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Were I a quibbler (perish the thought!) – he’s not saying “poised for brilliance” – but “poised at the edge”… yet lacking what it takes to cross the line. Which yes, most of us do.
    I myself have got more lack than you can shake a stick at.
    As for what that means for me…?
    Probably nothing more than that the rest of my life will continue much as it has proceeded up to this point.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. i’m coming up to a birthday in 24 hours. so all thoughts and reflections on growing older are very IN MY FACE right about now. sometimes i wish i had accomplished more, but at others i wonder if it’s just cos that’s what people expect of other people. So are we truly “haunted” or is “brilliance” just something that everyone defines differently? who’s to say i am still lacking? or am i? oh bother. now it’s going to be floating in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy Birthday!! Birthdays are a “good” time to look at our lives with some judgment! At least, we often do that. I am with you in the “sometimes wishing I’d accomplished more” and other times thinking maybe that’s just other people’s expectations. There are ideas – concepts – that I had years ago that are being developed now, but I didn’t pursue them at the time and so now I’m not in the middle of that development. Should I do something with that now? Try to get involved, or just stay on the sidelines cheering others one? I dunno.


      • I hear you about not knowing if you should jump in there or just stand by and cheer. I’m thinking of doing something again that i haven’t done in ages. since i was in college. I alternate between going all out and getting started and sitting and looking at websites and thinking to myself – WHY? Why do i REALLY want to do this now? And right now I still don’t have an answer.

        Liked by 1 person

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