On not being a selfish little clod

Nobel prize winner George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950) gave the world some good advice. One example:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one…the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

We rarely think along these lines in these times. In the first place, we do not emphasize the value of joy, nor our right to claim it. We rarely identify our purpose, and we certainly don’t see ourselves as a force of nature.

Instead we report to work and dream of Friday. We perform work that does not produce a sense of accomplishment, nor does it define us as a force of nature.

In his book Synchronicity, The Inner Path of Leadership, Joseph Jaworsky quotes Martin Buber (1878 – 1965) on the subject of being a free man:

He believes in destiny, and believes that it stands in need of him…it awaits him, he must go to it, yet does not know where it is to be found. But he knows that he must go out with his whole being.

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter

That last requirement is also something we do not honor. We rarely go out with our whole being. Instead, we obey rules. We curb our enthusiasm. We defer to people who seek to limit us in accordance with their own habits, fears, and misconceptions. Buber distinguishes between puny will and grand will. Our puny will is controlled by things and instincts. Grand will emerges from us, he said, when we honor it.

Both men tell us to have a grand effect on life and on our own experience. Our institutions discourage this approach. They strive to dilute our confidence to play significant roles.

We come to mistake having a grand will as a form of conceit. The teachers tell us it is not conceit, but rather a way to serve life and the universe.

We could begin by acknowledging grand will and by declaring ourselves candidates to be a force of nature.

We might need a little inspiration. This is a link to YouTube where Neil Young sings Heart of Gold. A heart of gold expresses my desire perfectly.

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