The kingdom…is spread over the earth and men do not see it.–The Gospel of Thomas
(as quoted by Joseph Campbell)
We all start life in various relative contexts of safety, security, advantage, disadvantage, family, and love. All these things affect our initial possibilities in life. Context–as played out through school, work, relationships, places lived in–continues to play a major role in what our life possibilities might be.
But to a large extent, life is what we make of it, via our choices and the process of living. When we are young, we are usually blessed with more time, freedom, and uninhibited imagination, that we can distract ourselves, and ‘create our own fun.’ Just about anything is possible, in that sense, when we are, say, three or five years-old. Although we may be confined to playing in the backyard, there is a richness to be found in whatever nature or man-made-objects we are left to play with, with or without playmates–the possibilities of one or more than one, socially speaking.
School introduces us to the possibilities of increased knowledge and interaction with many different other people and texts. We learn the possibilities of languages, mathematics, sciences, history, the fine arts, and physical education. Again, our possibilities may increase through socializing and learning more about ourselves, others, various subject areas, society, and the world.
We are presented with a variety of possibilities via our introduction to the working world as we try out different jobs and, possibly, careers in the exploration of employment possibilities. If we are lucky, we may end up doing work we enjoy and make an adequate living. Through a similar trial and error process, we also arrive at our home bases and mature relationships, usually involving parents, friends, neighbors, staff at work, and, possibly, significant others.
Along the way, we are the unique people we are with various attitudes, values, beliefs, dreams, strengths and skills. Whatever life possibilities we actualize are dependent on those key personal elements or aspects. And so we arrive at certain points in our lives where we stop and take stock of ourselves and remaining life possibilities. What might and can we still do? What dreams do we still want to realize and achieve?
But life possibilities are more microcosmic than the dreams of the so-called ‘big picture’. There are the possibilities of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years. At any given moment, everywhere around us, are life’s possibilities in the precious process of an individual lifetime. What these possibilities are or may be is largely a matter of perception and attitude, how one feels at any given time about his or her own life.
At any given moment on a weekend or evening, for instance, one can likely go to the nearest book-store coffee shop and not only relax with a favorite beverage, but wander the aisles in search of what subjects may interest one all over again as they once did in school. If one really wants to see a concert involving a favorite performer, one can easily book tickets online when they first become available. If one wants to be surrounded by natural beauty for three seasons of a North American year, one can go to greenhouses to buy whatever flowers and plants one wants to nurture and be able to derive viewing pleasure from. If one wants to see the classmates of one’s youth, one might attend an anniversary reunion. If one wants to ‘get out of town’, one can travel to any place that appeals to deeper needs of soul and preferred imagery.
In short, just about anything is possible even in adult life, be it changing a mate, a home, a job, a stale lifestyle, and so forth. Life’s possibilities, for the most part, remain nothing more than what we can and might choose if we wish through simple acts of will. Minister-author Norman Vincent Peale had an interesting suggestion regarding this topic: “Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities–always see them, for they’re always there.”
Life possibilities are ever-present in any situation, as Viktor Frankl persuasively argues in his must-read book Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he speaks of willing seemingly impossible dreams, attitudes, and behaviors into being. Possibilities are to be found even in the most stressful or depressing situations and contexts, and we have the free will and inner capacity to rise above any crisis or extremely limiting situation. “Life is what we make (of) it” goes the old cliche.
In “As I Walked Out One Evening”, W.H. Auden wrote “Life remains a blessing/Although you cannot bless.” Hamlet said “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” In those two statements, the ideas that there is a “kingdom” of opportunities (cf. the meditation’s epigraph), and that attitude and perspective play large roles in actualizing whatever possibilities of said kingdom. Indeed, if we cannot “bless”, the fault may be an internal one, one resting largely on personal will and individual choice.
A song lyric of mine from the late 1960s goes:
And if you want, you can slide/And if you want you can ride/The day is like a daisy/Pick it off if you’re lazy or crazy
And with your dreams you can fly/Spread your wings touch the sky/All that remains is for you to do it/Close your eyes there’s nothing to it/Come on and try
Takin’ a chance on a star/Findin’ out who you really are/Strummin’ on a magic guitar
“I am large….I contain multitudes.”–Walt Whitman
(1st posted on September 6, 2012)