In the Pursuit of Real or Perceived Excellence

By Timothy Smith. Timothy lives in California, USA. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Foucault’s quote about not needing to know exactly what one is and being in favour of becoming someone else one wasn’t in the beginning is something that I believe all humans are inherently born with, even if many of us may not agree with Foucault or believe as he does. For me, I have always been internally driven, highly motivated, and tightly wound. It didn’t really occur to me why I was that way until I became an adult. As a child, I was always getting into trouble because I was energetic and inquisitive. For some reason, I never really liked rules, although I understood the need for them. As I became an adult it became clear to me that I wasn’t as fond of rules as I should have been because I was always looking beyond them, for the exceptions. I did not do this to try to get away with anything or to be privileged, but to see what was beyond and how I might get there. This is, I believe, where the exceptional people lie, in thought and theory if not in reality.

Whatever a person’s beginning might be, whether it be in beauty, bliss, poverty, wealth, privilege, or mediocrity, I think our beginning is always just a springboard to something and somewhere better. Our highly individualised challenges help us discover paths and purposes to a future excellence imminently achievable by any clever means available to us. Just because the path is not illuminated doesn’t mean it isn’t there or able to be travelled. To just exist in a place of ‘demotivation’ because it is familiar or comfortable or because we were not instructed to move beyond defies nature. Thus, becoming someone you were not in one’s beginning seems to have nature’s seal of approval, and that of evolution’s as well. There is a great deal of beauty and unforeseen magic in being forever proactive instead of reactive. However, the real power of Foucault’s quote, that becoming someone you were not in your beginning, is his emphasis on that effort being ‘the main interest in life’. For what is life really, except for a long stream of endeavours to be better tomorrow than we were today, or to be further along tomorrow than we were yesterday. Again, I think this quote shows the foresight of those who destine themselves for greatness along a path of telesis.

Being of African-American descent and a first generation college student made me somewhat of an anomaly in my family, since I was the only one (and the youngest one) of eight siblings whose interest and natural talents fell into the realm of hard sciences. My natural inclinations in terms of improving myself went well with my chosen academic interests and I was able to put my energy to work through research, writing, and directed study to achieve my initial academic goals even though they weren’t what my parents would have chosen for me. Unlike many of my colleagues and classmates however, my parents were not able to contribute to my college education. I had to join the military so that they would pay for my college education, and they did. But all along my journey, even though I was full of energy and had at least a direction in which I wanted to go, I had no idea of what I really wanted to be. It was almost as if I knew that I JUST wanted to evolve into whatever I might become as soon as possible, just as I would have as much time as possible to enjoy what I was evolving into.

The real beauty for me in not needing to know what I am in the moment is that who I am and what I am is always changing. It feels more important to my spirit that I just keep moving forward to pursue the theoretical excellence out there to be had. What I have learned from my ‘science of mind’ pursuits has taught me to enjoy existing in the moment and to appreciate from that moment as much bliss and joy as possible. In that way, I am rewarded with everything that life has to offer from moment to moment and with each passing moment, I am further away from my unruly and rootless beginning, and closer to the very best that life has to offer. My advice to everyone and anyone would be ‘don’t stand still’. However uncomfortable and unfamiliar your journey might be, always strive for the excellence that is inherently yours to achieve.


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