……………Keeps Us From Discovering The Treasures Buried in The Desert of Nonconformity
Everyday I sit and ponder about my contribution to the world.
Will I ever be remembered?
This compelling question has long and unknowingly lingered within my mind and my heart, but certainly with greater impulsion for the past three years. I wonder why I was never asked to reflect on this in my younger years, when perhaps, my childlike enthusiasm and forward mind might have rendered my adult fears inexistent. It is a question of magnificent importance, and with the passage of time has awakened within me the dread of a meaningless life.
One evening, with the stark feeling of numbness in the face of another day gone by, I reached for my laptop and searched for some motivational video or other, hoping to make sense of the circumstances I found myself in. That was the first time I heard the following:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford.
‘What a silly thought!’ This was the first thing that popped into my head.
Then, I remembered hearing or reading something similar about Steve Jobs, the great mind behind Apple. It was something about telling people what they want and not asking them.
The more I thought about it, the more this clashed with my views on life. Yet surely, if the ideas of men like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford have survived the passage of time, they were worth reflecting upon.
I had never conceived of influence in such a manner. Quite the opposite. I was taught to conform throughout my existence, from being a good student, finding a job that paid a high salary, it was all a premeditated sequence with an end goal. I remember hearing a girl in one of my college classes saying she wanted to get married and pop out a baby before she turned 30. Less and less, these kinds of arbitrary goals are losing their appeal as I neared the end of my twenties. My biggest regret thus far: I have never truly dared to cross the line in the sand, and have left undiscovered some of the treasures that await me in the solitude of nonconformity.
I admire men like Henry Ford not for what they accomplished, but for who they had to become in order to achieve these accomplishments. The persistence of one’s belief in their vision in light of mass incredulity is a skill of high value that few men or women possess. Both an avid reader of history and industry, and the pursuer of knowledge in the field of self-development would find that Ford faced much doubt with regards to his pursuits, even after his initial success. Innovators like Orville Wright and Guglielmo Marconi, whose creative thoughts allowed them to conceive of what was previously inconceivable, yet today are but ordinary contraptions, were also ridiculed. They, however, persisted despite the pressure of those around them because they had a vision to march beyond the line in the sand drawn by their societies.
This line in the sand was drawn for me before I was born, designed on the expectations of my beloved family. It was further edged deeply into my consciousness through school. Yet the facade of the indelibility of this line started losing its trick as my discontent grew with my awareness of the truly limited supply of fulfilment I could find behind this line, which keeps so many of us in pursuit of favor and acknowledgement from everyone else who has decided to conform.
We were given this powerful capacity to think. Rejecting it is rejecting our own nature. Unlike other beings on this earth, we have the ability to use our mind to wield the environment to our desired outcome.
So, what is the solution to crossing the line in the sand in search of the buried treasure of potential?
Henry Ford possessed imagination, if he had not, we would still be traversing our roads in horse carriages. Imagination has sparked the flame of pursuit within the greatest of explorers, inventors, and freedom fighters of our past. Without the imagination of a better life or a different way of living, you would not be reading these words on whatever device you are now holding.
I propose that after reading this essay, you take a piece of paper (or open a google document), and jot down one burning desire you have for your future which seems impossible. Then, search for two or three examples of individuals throughout history that challenged the status quo, and daringly imagined a way of living that provoked the backlash of their contemporaries. Do not only look into their successes, but also, dig further into the suffering imposed on them and how they overcame it.
Perhaps their courage may inspire you to believe in your own imagination.
My hope is to encourage in you the boldness of pursuit of your buried treasures in the desert of solitude through the use of your imagination. As difficult as it may seem, you will surely discover an amazing world of your own creation, as did Henry Ford only a century earlier.