July 25, 2011

The Universe's Kryptonite

When I go in to shower everyday, I have this funny habit of pretending to be a celebrity and interviewing myself in the mirror.
I interview myself for five minutes everyday.
In the mirror.
Pretending I'm a celebrity.
Complete with the fake laugh, and the flicking of the hair and the story of the funny prank that George Clooney played on me while shooting a scene.
Oh… George is just such a riot!
*Flick hair behind the shoulder*

I like being interviewed. But I think I'll like interviewing other people too.
I've always wanted to interview Edison.

No, not because I'm interested in the invention of the light bulb.

I think he did a great job, but I'm pretty sure if he tried to explain the process to me…
I won't get most of it.
Actually, I won't get any of it.
And then he'll think I'm a twit.
And then he'll call for security to escort me out.
And I'll be dragged out of the room, with my arms flailing around wildly and me screaming…
'You're going to regret this Tom. I swear you'll regret this.'

I'm interested in his words. More specifically, when he said:

Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

I want to confirm that I've understood him correctly.

Given the fact that I'm quite sure of the role of the universe in the story of our lives, his words seem to fit my beliefs perfectly.
I'm pretty sure Edison's saying that the universe is that 1%.

What I'm unsure of is whether that’s the correct order.
As in… does the universe play it's role before or after the perspiration?

Because Edison himself made almost 10000 attempts to get the light bulb to work but he couldn't create vacuum correctly and he gave up momentarily. Then he heard about another scientist who'd managed to create a vacuum better than him in some other part of the world. And the light bulb in his head went 'ping!' and he created the same vacuum for his (actual) light bulb and the rest is history.
Yea. If I show Edison that I know all this, I bet he won't think of me as a twit then.
Get your grubby hands off of me…  stupid security guards.

So the 99% perspiration came first and then came the 1% inspiration.

I know that perspiration is an important ingredient to success.
And I know hard work and luck feed off of each other.
I've lived my whole life on that belief.

I've always been a hard worker.
That's the reason I got good grades in high school. 
That's the reason I landed that coveted Canary Wharf job at university.

I put in that 99% perspiration, but the shoe just didn't fit.
It wasn't my fault.
I'm soooo tempted to blame this one on the universe.
I know I shouldn't.
But I'm so so so tempted.
Oh what the heck…
It was the universe's fault.
There, I said it.
It was all the universe's fault.


I'm okay.
I'm calm.
I'm okay.

The reality is… that it's not the universe's fault.
It did put in the 1% because if it hadn't, then I wouldn't have got the job.

But the fact remains that I wasn't recognized as a genius.
I sure didn't feel like one.
So what happened?!?
Now, I'm really glad you asked.

I introduce to you, dear readers, the result of 27 long years of research:

My award winning* 'Theory of Success'

*A highly coveted self-awarded award of Geniusness from the one member Advisory Committee of the Institute of Super Cool Research into Random Stuff (ISCRRS).

And given that I've been on ALL sides of the spectrum ('Successful banker' to 'Glaring failure' and 'Confused career-less loser'), I have considerable credibility and expertise in this field of study.

For those universities that would like to talk to me with regard to awarding me an honorary PhD, please contact me on the email address given at the bottom of this page.  

So without further adieu, here's the meat of what my theory states:

Early in our lives, we are to choose a path. A path that we have to walk on, to reach the goal of our lives.
But before we choose, the universe does it's job.
Often as early as kindergarten.

It gives us that 1% inspiration when we can barely talk.
Before you dismiss that as stupid, I think the reason it does this is because that, unfortunately, is the age that we are the most receptive to it.
Trust me.
That's really why.
I had a long heated discussion with the universe.
And that's what it told me.

When we are toddlers, we don't feel societal pressures. We don't care about looking cool in front of our friends. We don't care about getting rich. We don't care about being made fun of. We just do what we like.
And that's the only window of opportunity that the universe has to put in it's contribution.

The 1% inspiration.

That's why most geniuses start young.

Van Gogh was a 'peculiar child' who started sketching and drawing the world around him when he was about nine years old.

Einstein was awestruck with the compass his father gave him at the tender age of five. That convinced him that there had to be something deep hidden behind things. And it got him interested in the nature of the magnetic field for the rest of his life.

Tiger Woods was playing with a putter before he could walk. His parents say he possessed a passion for the sport.

Warren Buffett bought his first shares at the age of 11 and filed his first income tax return when he was 14. 

A note for the skeptics:
It is NOT because their parents forced them into it.
If you believe that they were forced, just do me this favor please.
Try to force a pre-teen to do anything.
Anything… let alone make him play golf when he wants to watch cartoons.
If you survive, you'll know why I'm so sure that they weren't forced.

Yes ladies and gentlemen.
It's sad but true.
The universe gives us it's 1% before we even know what '1%' means.
Those who are lucky -heed it's signal. Somehow.
And they become the geniuses the world reveres.
Notice I said 'somehow'.
I wasn't kidding when I said thorough research and keen observation.

But what about the rest of us?
Are we all doomed to never ever receive our 1% ever?!?
Just because we missed it the first time around?!
Well that's obviously not true… but it definitely gets harder to receive it.

Because as you grow up, you start feeling pressures. The above-mentioned pressures. Also, you start thinking you know what you're doing. So it get's harder for the universe to get through to us.

You pick a path and start laboring down that road.
You pick a path for some random reason.

The path to a six figure salary.
The path to comforts and pleasures of life.
The path to a holiday abroad each year.
The path to having an island named after you.
Then you work hard.

You do your 99% and BAM… you get that 1% and you make it.

Herein lies the crux of this theory.

Hard work is the weapon of choice here.
It's the universe's kryptonite.
Even the universe has to bow it's head before the power of hard-work.
I used to do that.
Quite a lot.
Bully it into submission using hard work.

And this very fact lies at the heart of the problem.
Because once you put in all that hard work and leave the universe no choice but to hand you the 1%, that's the end of you.

Unless most of your nerve endings have died on the way- when you get there you feel a sense of emptiness. Along with the emptiness you feel one or more of the following:
  • Restlessness
  • Void
  • Intermittent feelings of what am I doing with my life… often.
  • Lethargy when you wake up in the morning.
  • Insecurity
  • The need to extract your sense of self worth from other people's opinion of you
  • The urge to mention your accomplishments to others for no rhyme or reason
  • The longing for retirement- early or scheduled
And if you're a little over-dramatic like yours truly, you will also experience:
  • A part of you dying inside
  • Hyper-eating: Food's the only good thing left in your life
  • Achy feeling in stomach before stepping out of the house for work
  • Daily morning crying ritual
  • Nervous breakdowns
  • Premature graying
  • Stress pimples on your cheeks and forehead
I'm not kidding.
So then you look at the universe for help.
After blaming it for your misery of course.

Either you spend all your life hoping that the universe will make it better.

Or you get used to the symptoms above and realize that most people are living their lives like that anyway, so there's no reason to complain.

Or you realize the mistake you've made. So you decide to change paths.
And roam around listlessly till you see a blip on the 'Universe communication' radar- telling you which path to take. 

And then it hits you.

You get your 1% inspiration, the universe sets you onto the path you were meant to take in kindergarten and now you start ploughing all over again.
And you plough and plough and plough away.

And BAM you get your 1% and you’re a genius.

Note 1: Genius here is defined as the absence of the above mentioned symptoms and the pervasive feeling of ecstasy.

Note 2: Pervasive feeling of ecstasy is defined as the absence of the above mentioned symptoms and happiness and a sense of purpose in everyday life.

In between the changing of paths and the hitting of the inspiration, there's pain. And despair. There's hopelessness and ridicule. There's depression and doubt. And there are repeated attempts at opening up to the message of the universe.
You just need to keep going.

And it serves you right for ignoring the universe in the first place. 

How long does it take, you ask?
This process of changing paths and your geniusness blossoming?

My thorough and deep research suggests it depends on three things:
  • Your willingness  and ability to overcome the fear involved in changing paths
  • Your receptiveness to the universe's signals
  • Your willingness to do the time; to put in the manual labor.
Bullet points number 1 and 3 seem to be under our control.
What do we do about bullet point number 2? Where do we even begin?

Like all theories this one, too, has it's blurry parts.
It's unclear how one can become fluent in 'universe'.

But fear not, for the Pious Hippie has ventured forth in search of an answer. I suggest one of the following:
  • Renounce the materialistic world and camp out for 13 years in a small cave in the woods.
  • Devise a new code language of your own and teach it to the universe.
I'm not sure how you can resolve a small problem that might crop up in pursuing this path. What language will you use to teach the universe this new language? Hm… ?

  • Go back to how the universe tried to communicate with you in kindergarten. How would it have tried to tell you about that 1%? How did little Van Gogh or Einstein understand what the universe was trying to tell them? I'm not sure but my guess is that unlike other people (whom we hear using our ears), we can hear the universe through this weird combination of mind and heart. 
We just do what we like  doing.
We do what we feel like doing even when it's not that easy.
We do what we feel like doing even if no one pays us.
We do what we feel like doing instead of sleeping at night.

To most sane people the third method seems to the simplest.
Unless you're a professional language inventor.
Which would be such an awesome job!
What do you do for a living?
Oh… I invent languages for a living.
Anyway the third method, as easy as it seems -is no cake walk.

(a) you can think you like something and then get bored of it after a few months;
(b) You might think you don't like something because it's not really a thing. Examples would include: brain paragliding; information simplifying; funny chart making; dirty story telling etc;
(c) you like more than one thing a LOT and can't make up your mind about which one the universe is pointing to;
(d) you think the universe is an idiot because it's pointing you towards a field that is already so saturated that you'll never be able to make a living in it. So you think, 'I must be interpreting the universe incorrectly'.
Maybe it's saying to me- 'dog lighting' and I'm hearing 'blog writing'.

I told you it wasn't easy.
But nobody said the quest for geniusness is easy either.

In conclusion, I conclude that you ignore the universe at your own peril.
The result: A semi-happy life in which the 'happy' part is extremely fragile and originates from a place outside of you- not from the inside. That's the birthplace of insecurity.

I also conclude that it takes a lot of guts to follow the path of the universe.
To not sell out half way and take up something less arduous and more lucrative. You can't rule out the possibility of a tragic ending either.
Even with my constant harping on the subject, I'm not sure if I'm completely up to it.
Only time will tell.

Van Gogh died at the age of 37 from a self inflicted gun shot wound. He had a pretty hard life having to deal with commercial failure, difficult personal relationships and eventually mental illness. No one knew or cared about his art while he was alive. But his fortitude gave me goose bumps. In a letter to his brother, he wrote:

'What am I in the eyes of most people - a nonentity, an eccentric or an unpleasant person - somebody who has no position in society and never will have, in short, the lowest of the low.

All right then, even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.'

Immediately after his death, Van Gogh's work became sought after.
He died in 1890, but I'm still talking about him in my blog in 2011.

And the third conclusion is that hard work is the weapon of mortals against the universe. Van Gogh produced about 2000 pieces of work in his short career.

Okay. I know.
Van Goghs are like one in a gazillion.

His is a case of extreme geniusness and extreme hardship.

But all I'm saying is, that we can scale his life down to a millionth fraction and face a millionth of the hardships and get one millionth of the ecstasy.
That's not too bad a deal.
Yes, I know.
My calculations and mathematical accuracy are phenomenal.
I work quite hard at it.

The lesson that Van Gogh's life is screaming out is:

'Just show what's in your heart!'

So it turns out the order isn't important.
Recognizing your 1% when it hits you just gives you a head start.
And missing it means that it probably won't 'hit' you the same way.
You'll have to grope around in the dark for sometime.

The result, though, will always be the same.


Provided you add the kryptonite to the concoction.
The 99%.

Note 1: Geniusness here is defined as the absence of the above mentioned symptoms and the pervasive feeling of ecstasy.

Note 2: Pervasive feeling of ecstasy is defined as the absence of the above mentioned symptoms and happiness and a sense of purpose in everyday life.

Okay. This is my cue to stop.
If I don't, I'll keep repeating what I've said before.

Did I mention I won an award for this theory? From the ISCRRS?!?
The institute for super cool research into random stuff?!
Hm.. You're right… I did mention that.

Don't forget.
Those who have the authority to award honorary PhDs, my email's at the end of this page. Just scroll down. I'm available all the time.
Can't wait to hear from you guys.
And I'm so excited.
I have my acceptance speech ready.
And I'm also planning an acceptance dance.
On Michael Jackson's 'Man in the Mirror'.
And don't worry… I'm not going to make a fool of myself.
I'm taking moon-walking classes.
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The Pious Hippie by Ms. Pious Hippie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.