I’m a big believer in following the many signs that crop up every now and again in Life to help guide us along on our individual journeys. In fact, my favorite word - yes, I have a favorite word - was coined by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung back in the 1920s: Synchronicity. Specifically, and shamelessly lifted directly from Wikipedia:
“Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently casually unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner.”
For me at least, when I take the time to examine my Life events more closely and carefully, I find that for the most part, many “apparently unrelated occurrences” seem to unfold in ways that offer gentle instructions, or impart some viable kernels of wisdom. There’s far too many to recall as they happen quite frequently, but one in particular stands out.
Back in February 2005, I flew to Atlantic City for a brief two-day business trip. At the time I was a producer for the Los Angeles based TV show, The World Poker Tour. About a week before my trip, I’d noticed several seemingly random references cropping up regarding the actor William Shatner. I’ve never been a fan or a follower of his career, but for some reason his name and face kept appearing regularly on my radar.
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this trip, as winter in New Jersey isn’t exactly the optimum time to fully appreciate or enjoy the east coast. Nor was I excited about visiting Atlantic City. Nothing against AC but I’m just not into casinos and such - a tad ‘odd’ since I was working on a poker show - so unless that’s your thing, spending time in Atlantic City during the icy months isn’t really a thrilling or compelling offer.
Deciding to make the best of the opportunity though, I looked patiently for those things to appreciate, and as expected, there was much to be appreciative of: the free room at the Borgata, the helpful staff, the good food, the friendly and easy-going production crew, a chance to get out of town for a few days, the effortless journey from the airport out to the coast and back, etc. But as fate would have it, with only about an hour left in my stay, I opened up the bedside dresser drawer in my hotel room and found the latest copy of Vanity Fair magazine.
I NEVER read Vanity Fair nor have I ever felt even remotely compelled to open one, but something told me to look inside this copy. Sure enough, I turned directly to an interview with, you guessed it, William Shatner. A bit taken aback by yet another odd synchronistic reference to the actor who seemed to be trailing my every move, I read the piece. It wasn’t until the very end when the elusive kernel of wisdom appeared like a lustrous gem buried in rock.
The interviewer asked Shatner to briefly sum up his own philosophy on Life and career, to which he replied that, as he saw it, our lives are like works of sculpture always in progress. Our journey through this Life is never a done deal. All we can hope for or expect is to simply and faithfully keep “chipping away at it from one moment to the next.”
Imagine a master like Michelangelo chiseling away at an immense slab of marble. With each blow of hammer to stone, a little bit more of what lies beneath the surface begins to slowly take shape. Once the general form of whatever ‘being’ starts to become more recognizable, the artist moves in closer to apply the finer details of the creation. With each chip flaked away from the frame, the smoothness of an earlobe or the edge of a fingernail comes into form. It all starts to make sense the more you work at it . . .
And this is Life.
My Life . . . your Life . . . all of our precious, unique Lives are collectively composed of little chips here and there applied over long stretches of time. And ever so slowly with great patience and a continuously evolving sense of inner understanding, forms take shape, things and ideas gradually make more sense . . . destinies become more clearly defined.
Real vision - like wisdom acquired over time - can, and does improve with age . . . if we’re willing to change the way we look at Life.
In the Western World, particularly here in the United States, everyone seems to be in such a mad rush all the time that they fail to not only notice the journey itself, but more importantly, they fail to understand and appreciate the pace necessary for growth, development, and achievement.
Just look at William Shatner’s roller-coaster career as an example. In the early 1960s he landed a few guest roles on TV shows like The Twilight Zone, which led to his being cast as Captain Kirk on Star Trek in 1966. The now iconic series was a ratings failure at the time, and ended up getting cancelled after only three seasons. A subsequent ‘Treky’ resurgence in the 70s spiraled into one film after another until once again, Shatner slipped away into obscurity, only to resurface nearly a decade later seemingly re-born as the spokesperson for orbitz.com and one of the stars of the hit TV series Boston Legal. In fact, you could say that, at the age of 85, Shatner's more famous today than he's ever been before.
Up and down we all go on this wild and unpredictable roller coaster of a Life, but you’ve got to stay calm, carry on, and keep patiently chipping away in order to unearth the diamonds along the way.
Apply this to your craft, be it acting, painting, writing, teaching . . . you name it.
Apply this to your relationships - those you have with others and especially the one you have with yourself. In fact, just go ahead and apply this to your entire Life.
Keep in mind, the sum total of our lives, all we do, everything we accomplish . . . ALL of it is a work in progress.
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