While skimming through my “newsfeed” on Facebook yesterday, I stopped at an idealized image of a waterfall. As is the case with pictures of this sort, there was an inspirational quote. This one was attributed to James T. McCay. “No matter what the level of your ability, you have more potential than you can ever develop in a lifetime.”
What an amazing idea this is. There was a lot of wisdom in that quote and I wanted to ponder it. I closed the Facebook page and put my laptop in sleep mode. Then, I stepped outdoors to ponder McCay’s words.
I thought about the millions of people on Earth who, for one reason or another, don’t realize they have the potential to be amazingly good people. If only more of us could think about the potential power we all have, we could probably solve most of the big problems in the world. In the process, we would not only be helping ourselves, we’d be working together as a community for the common good.
The knowledge of potential is an ages-old subject of philosophers and other minds from the past. They understood that every person’s mind plays with imagination and has some sort of dream. These dreams are visualizations of potential.
Each of us has some glimmering memory of our fondest childhood dream. That dream is the seed of what we have become. This is true whether or not one extrapolates from that dream, exactly or if a person follows a parallel path. I think that a person’s earliest dream reveals potential and the will to live.
Right now, I’m thinking about a very young boy I encounter on a regular basis at my favorite thrift store. Out of respect for his privacy, I’ll call him “Carson”. He is always accompanied by his grandmother. He usually sits inside of a shopping cart that his grandma pushes through the aisles.
Carson is one of the most captivating little kids I’ve ever met. He radiates an unusual amount of charisma, even more than most children his age. The first thing a person notices about Carson is his ever present smile. He is blessed with an inborn gregariousness that is so rare these days. If his smiles and friendliness don’t sweep you off your feet, Carson’s politeness will bowl you over. Certainly, he has been skillfully taught, but Carson’s charisma goes beyond the bounds of good parenting.
Whenever this little boy and his grandmother show up, Carson inevitably steals the show. He is intensly intelligent and highly curious. When these aspects combine with his charisma, people become charmed in this little boy’s presence. I often wonder how he will adapt to the world around us and what part will he take in the future of mankind. Carson seems destined for greatness. It’s obvious that he has incredible potential.
As you read these words, you may remember your own potential. It might be that of early childhood, or newly discovered potential, later as an adult. Thus, potential can be expressed as original or its recurrance can be interpreted as feeling “reborn”. Our inner potential can seem boundless at certain stages of life. That potential makes us feel like anything at all can happen and opportunities are just around the corner.
We may compare human potential to the potential energy stored in batteries. A battery can make a humble flashlight shine; another battery can start your car; or another type of battery can power an office building. All one need to do is connect the battery to the task at hand. We know that this is how we tap the potential energy of batteries. What about our human potential? How might someone like Carson utilize his potential?
As Carson’s life unfolds, he will set forth on his journey through the unknown. He will travel to personally uncharted territories. His intense curiosity will cause Carson to encounter new experiences and adventures. Undoubtedly, he will continue to develop. His capacity for personal growth will continue to expand.
The youngster will have to make many choices as he grows into adolescence and eventually adulthood. These choices will determine how Carson taps into his potential. Just like all of us, he will make some foolish choices and he will make a few wise choices. Sometimes I wish I could travel into the future to see how Carson and his generation will utilize their potential. Will they squander their energy, or will they optimize it?
Certainly Carson and his peers aren’t the only people with potential. Every one of us has some measure of potential waiting to be used. How we use our potential will greatly affect the ways Carson and his generation can use theirs. Each generation stands on the shoulders of those that precede it.
What kind of world will we bequeath to kids like Carson? Right now, the world seems quite messed up. The present generations must carefully consider the various options we have right now. There are some very sober decisions to make about some very serious choices. This is the time we must believe in our ability to follow the highest, most compassionate aspirations in our hearts.
Right now is the time to begin tapping into the potential we have to develop our “shoulders” for Carson’s generation to stand on. We will continue to know fear in its various forms. However, when we honestly tap into our potential, we can move past those fears. In some way, we have some modicum of courage. We have some urges to take a risk and use our potential for creative expression.
What makes you feel fearless? What brings you feelings of being whole and healthy? What is it that brings out your awe, curiosity, wonder, and anticipation? What will cause you to leap out of bed in the morning and eagerly take on the day?
If you can answer any of these personal questions, you will understand your own potential.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this idea from Anne Frank: “Everyone has inside himself a piece of good news! The good news is that you really don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is!”