A Lone Individual Can…

[This “Individuality and Absurd Rebellion” series of posts introduces you to ideas you’ll find in Eric Maisel’s most recent book Redesign Your Mind. You can learn more about Redesign Your Mind here.]

Where will your individuality take you? To some highly uncomfortable places. Maybe you’ll embark on some quest you can’t explain or name. There you are, wandering about, announcing that you are on a quest but getting nowhere.

Maybe you’ll find yourself pondering the biggest questions and refusing to accept too-simple answers, only to discover that the biggest questions have no satisfactory answers. You were hungry for resolution but all you got was confusion.

Maybe your mandate to do some good got all mixed up with your desire to make a splash and live well. Now you find yourself in a comfortable position in a corner office, doing much less good than you know that you ought to be doing.

That is, challenges will remain. You can feel smug when you do math, since two plus two will equal four forever. But life does not permit you to feel smug about it. We face that and say, “A lone individual has always mattered and always will.”

A lone individual can stand up to a row of tanks, with the whole world watching. The tanks will win but that image of freedom will be seared into the brains of children and may prove pivotal fifty years later, as other tanks are gathering.

A lone individual, sitting on a city council, can prove the tie-breaking vote that keeps the thieves from further thievery or the polluters from making further misery. Or she can sit on a higher bench and save democracy.

A lone individual can tell a quiet story, maybe about a rabbit disappearing down a rabbit hole and the little girl who follows him into Wonderland, that is read by a lot of children, or maybe just a few, and that encourages their individuality.

A lone individual can find a cure, help a child in need, or start a rights’ movement. She may need to be a medical researcher in order to find that cure but she can be a complete amateur and still aid that child or launch that movement.

Lone individuals can also work together. Each, being an individual, may well prove testy, opinionated and difficult. But testy, opinionated and difficult individuals, as long as they are not inflexible, can change hearts and move mountains.

Gatherings of individuals, as for instance at a Continental Congress, can prove momentous. Each will have his or her own agenda, but if they happen to be a gathering of genuine individuals, you might get a wall torn down or new rights for everyone.

The world is better off in each of these instances. It is not changed; it is not transformed; it is not saved. But it is better off than if that lone individual had not existed. That “better off” is something.

The world is better off in each of these instances and individuals know it. They might wish that a lone individual could do more and they might wish that they themselves could do more. But they do not characterize what they can do as nothing. A lone individual doing what he or she can do is not nothing!


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