We all know the saying that we are each greater than the sum of our parts, but I like to expand this by saying I am greater than the product of the factors in my life. It’s funny because of the mathematical parallelism between sums and products, but it also changes the focus from the internal to the external.
When I think of the parts that make me up, I think of the roles I fill and the things I am. I’m a writer, a brother, a friend, a leader. I was homeschooled, graduated from a community college, and now I’m attending an awesome university. But when taken together, I am greater than any one of these things.
When I think of the factors that have brought me here, I think of the outside forces that have shaped me: My parents are divorced, I’ve grown up depending on government assistance, and I’ve only been able to make it through school because of the challenges I’ve overcome. Yet I am greater than each of these things, and I am greater than merely taking them all together.
It’s hard to say which came first–the outside challenges or the changes inside–but all of these elements have brought me here and made me who I am, and because of the extraordinary opportunities I’ve been given, I’ve finally realized where I want to go in life.
I loved the show “Charmed” while I was growing up. It painted a world of magic mixed with modern life, all the fantasy of Harry Potter drizzled over a world very much like my own–a world of friendship, love and loss, and real family struggles. One of my favorite characters was always Leo, a guardian of the show’s protagonists and also a strong male role model for a young boy like I was. Later in the show’s life, Leo underwent a series of trials that completely unmade his character–and part of his healing was something called a vision quest.
The vision quest is Native American in origin, a rite of passage usually consisting of a solitary immersion in nature to connect with one’s higher purpose. Like Leo, my life of late has been rife with trials that have completely unmade me–and like the role model he was when I was younger, Leo’s demonstration of personal growth through a vision quest has compelled me to set off on a similar journey of my own.
Back when the year began I set out upon journey that I soon departed from. I envisioned a better future for myself and drafted a series of goals–but somewhere between then and now I wandered astray and haven’t been able to make much progress on the goals I set out to achieve.
I’ve run into a number of challenges since then, both internal and external, but I’m back in a sound mind again and I’m waiting to play this symphony to completion. Today is target practice for me–a time to shoot some arrows and see where they land. More than half the year remains, and I can step back upon the path I want to follow.
All I have to do is see where I stand today and make sure I’m looking in the right direction to keep moving forward.