Many people have heard the old maxim to “have balance in all things.” Many have said it, some seriously, some in jest. Some have used it as an excuse to embrace a little bit of everything so that they aren’t expected to really go into anything (“Jack of all trades, master of none.”). They profess believing that they can’t really know what the Universe holds (“God works in mysterious ways,”), so it’s best to hold with a little bit of everything.
I hear this as a way to ensure that you’re a little bit right all the time. I also hear it as a way to ensure that you’re a little bit wrong all the time. Beyond this, I hear it as a way to make sure that you stay small. Those who believe that the saying is true often say that being a little bit wrong is a price we have to pay for being a little bit right. However, I find that there are folks who are (or have been in their times) very excited and there are those who are not. This holds true whether you look at the arts, the sciences, spirituality, or anything else
In fact, it holds true no matter what human endeavor you consider. Every human activity is marked by those who veritably glow with excitement and those who don’t. Maybe the non-glowers are the ones who pursue a given profession only for the money. Perhaps they embrace a field because they see themselves as respectable individuals. Perhaps they are seeking that excitement and hope so that the lightning will strike them, too.
Perhaps there is some other reason, but those who are not excited (or exciting) only make incremental improvements, if they make improvements at all. Really radical, innovative changes that define how people think about their relations to the subject and define how they see each other and themselves happen only to those who are excited.
This can be seen in every field of endeavor. Whether you consider the arts, the sciences, engineering, the crafts, or something else, you find that it is always true that the field is moved forward by those who make original contributions from their souls and get excited about those things. Rarely, if ever, is it true that those who live by the idea of “a little bit of everything” make significant contributions to the field.
This is nowhere more true than in spirituality. You can find an acceptance that “a little bit of everything” is the best we can do and of the notion that if I think it is so, it must not be true (whatever the crowd thinks is the way I must go) in many traditions. These ideas can be found in Abrahamic religions, shamanic traditions, African and Indian religions, Taoism, and so on.
In every case that I have looked at, it seems to be true that someone (sometimes several people at various times) had a personal sense of the truth and felt genuine excitement about a field. However, in each case, that person was followed by one or more people (often many individuals) who had less of an idea (or no idea), and no experience with getting in touch with that original sense of truth.
The truth and beauty that flowed through the original person was lost in subsequent generations. All that was left was dry, intellectual interpolation. There was no connection, no truth, no beauty. The only way that those who followed had to reach for that original beauty was through intellectual interpolation. Thus, the field became dry and intellectual rather than bold and exciting.
What part of your experience is bold and what part is dry? The dry parts are probably intellectual. One of the amazing things is that the bold, exciting parts don’t have to be divorced from truth. In fact, to the extent that they are true, they are more exciting!
One way that the truth can be bold and exciting is when it says something that shouldn’t be said. When we discover a taboo that exists (at least in part) in order to control us – to make us pay, eat, dress, etc. in a certain (arbitrary) way – pointing out that such a taboo is in place is often enough to make that utterance exciting. You don’t even have to break the taboo. Pointing out its existence is often enough.
But how can we tell when we are being honest with ourselves and each other and not just fooling ourselves? A good clue may be found in the difference between feeling and emotion.
© 2013, David Park. All Rights Reserved.
”Excitement In Life” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.