Every day starts with waking up. You hit the alarm clock, sometimes before even opening your eyes, scrabbling around with one sleepy hand as your mind pulls itself out of the fog once again. Where have you been all these hours? For some of it, sure, there was that odd dream with the magical eagle who carried you over the chocolate mountain to the land filled with spear-wielding jelly babies that had to be dispatched by any means necessary. But for the most part, you just weren't there at all, as far as you can really tell. Time could have stopped completely. You never were, and you never knew you will be again, and because of that you just didn't care. The only difference between that and being dead is that, usually, the dead don't recompose due to the annoying beep of that bloody alarm clock OHHH-just-where-the-hell-is-it-ARGHHH-its-fallen-on-the-floor-and-rolled-under-the-bed ...
From no presence at all to an extreme wish for peace, you open your eyes and fall out of bed, because jumping out of bed is something that never actually happens, you finally locate the wayward noise machine and blissful silence is brought to the world once more. First job of the day done. Goal obtained. Satisfaction. And so begins a chain of wants that will continue until it's time for the want to disappear once again, to want no more wants, except maybe to want to return to it all after just a little while of nothingness. Because, ultimately, to remain as nothingness is just pretty darn boring. It's so much more interesting being in the world of wants, to have the will to see what's next in the story, to desire and to make things happen. Let's see what's next. Ah, breakfast.
More important than how much we have or how much we know or how much we do at any one particular time, is how much we want things to change. Desire is the gradient, the driving force that allows for the possibility of change, and so the possibility of making things better. With enough desire aimed in one direction, anything can happen. Grand castles can be built, cunning machines can be devised, deep relationships can be forged. Adventures of all kinds can be had by first wanting to put on your boots and step out the door. You can explore and learn and make wonderful things, create amazing stories, discover incredible knowledge and advance our world. But you need to want it. Desire is everything. At its core, it is purely selfish. Even apparently selfless acts contain at least a small seed of selfishness. Because simply by having a goal, regardless of who benefits from it, will only be achieved by the desire to feel that it is achieved. Ultimately, we always desire personal accomplishment, not necessarily personal benefit.
Will, want, desire - all of it comes in various flavours, and can be achieved to various degrees. The basic wants - food and shelter. Well, we could go out and find a stash of acorns, and a decent dryish cave somewhere. Job done. On second thoughts, maybe we could rustle up a sandwich and try to manage the rent on a little flat somehow. Or perhaps only a top restaurant and a luxury penthouse will do. How much do you need it? How much do you want it? How much can you be bothered?
Of course, that's just the basics, and it doesn't take that much will to get up and achieve them, at least to the lowest degree. Well, maybe a bit more than the lowest degree, if we consider that as the standard of acorn and cave. Just trying that for a short while would surely drive a desire to do a bit better. At least an acorn sandwich. Beyond the basics, all else comes down to comfort and interest. Seeing as the basics are essentially the first rung on the ladder of comfort, that's a natural path for many to continue to pursue one way or another, having as it does an inherent reward mechanism. Our will naturally stretches towards the next level of comfort in sight, and drives us in that direction.
We rarely fully appreciate the level of comfort we have at any one time, other than in unusual circumstances. If you get lost and stuck out in the rain on a hike, if things turn dark and you're not sure if you can even make it back to base but finally do, then a hot shower is the single greatest thing in the world, regardless of the bathroom. Yet that same shower as part of day-to-day getting ready is barely considered. Perhaps it even annoys you because of the squeaky tap and that patch on the ceiling, and you long for nothing else than a bathroom renovation. Perspective is everything.
So comfort is comfort, we can all get on board with that as a concept, and many may take that as the be all and end all of their journey, the principle driving factor behind many if not most or even all of life's decisions. Interest, on the other hand, is interesting. Interest is somewhat of a luxury from a certain point of view, lying outside the realm of absolute necessity as defined by the basics and comfort. But despite being a luxury, that's not to say it's always a pleasure, at least not in the near term. Interest can involve struggle for the sake of something more abstract than comfort, it is not always immediately rewarding, if at all, and can therefore only be driven by a more nuanced form of desire. That, in turn, requires a key ingredient, one that is not always so easy to come by, and which must be tailored to each of us, sometimes readily given and sometimes hard sought. We call it inspiration.
To be inspired means to resonate with some external force, which just so happens to be in tune with some internal pattern within you, a pattern which is itself only present by some internal nature or some external nurture. The stronger and more present the pattern, that shape of your soul, then the more susceptible you are to the forces that may influence it. It's a precious thing, but one that often goes uncultivated for many, simply sparked and brought to life by chance as much as anything. Luck, dancing around us. How many of us, in hindsight, get what we would consider to be an ideal upbringing, or an ideal education? One that really encouraged us and enlightened us and, crucially, inspired us, resonating to drive some burning interest that brought out the best of our potential, to then learn and grow with that interest, letting it be part of us, and, in turn, in the best case scenarios, allowing for us to contribute back to it.
Such ideal situations, and even those in close orbit about them, are uncommon, and so when we see the product of true burning and enabled interest it can seem almost superhuman. Michelangelo. Mozart. Einstein. But it is none other than the product of some kind of resonance, between an inner pattern and an external inspiration, under conditions which allow it to take deep root and flourish. A beautiful picture. A harmonious tune. A subtle theory. A way of being, pursuing one goal, then another, and another, and another. Having the will and the ability to go beyond the basics, to follow an interest to any level, is the essence of being more than animal, of being human. And yet, for many of us, how much is dedicated to the development of interest in our somewhat prescribed lives? How much are we enabled by our world to become as much as we can be?
Well, actually that depends on the interest, and how aligned it is to the state of your needs and the state of the world around you, as well as your state of mind. Let's lock it down a bit for some clarity. Say you're interested in teeth. You just love teeth. Ever since your childhood days when you lost your first tooth, you became fascinated with what was going on in your mouth, that the little gap there wouldn't last forever, they promised, that there was a bigger and stronger tooth to come that would last you a whole lifetime. Such biological magic. You grow up and discover that society, too, is generally fond of teeth, but not that many people can really be bothered to pay them more attention than necessary. Teeth are just there, and they do a job, and there are those tooth doctor people that sort out all the tricky problems with them. Wow, so people actually get paid to play with teeth all day long?! You're sold! Your interest is aligned with society's needs, and a need that not too many people are interested in dealing with either. Furthermore, your parents are thrilled that you're interested in becoming a medical professional, they buy you lots of books and make sure you have a quiet and calm place to study, you get top grades at school, and you can work things out financially to go to university. Onwards you go, to a fulfilling and wholesome career. You do something you're interested in, you help people with a genuine need, you get well paid, everyone's happy. The universe smiles its best smile, thanks to you.
But let's say you're interested in music. Oh dear. You can see where this is going already. It turns out that quite a lot of people are interested in music, far more than those who are interested in teeth. It also turns out that a lot of people are pretty good at it. And apparently, people can get through life without much assistance from a musical professional too. The ears don't need an aural doctor administering carefully regulated tunes during an annual check-up, or anything of the sort. You find that you're not born into a wealthy collective of musicianados, just a typical bunch of everyday humans tumbling through their lives, and you feel pretty guilty when you so much as consider buying an instrument knowing that it will never do any real benefit to you or to your bank balance or, really, to anyone else. Hum.
But let's say you're interested in music. Oh dear. Oh, hang on a minute, haven't we been here already? Hmm, something's different this time. This body feels strange, this environment is just a bit more ... funky. There's a tune on in the kitchen, and your mother is singing along as she bakes a cake on a Sunday morning. She always dabbled a bit with a ukulele too, and even let you play around with it from when you were small. You get pretty good. It becomes part of you, and you even start to find a voice too. And so you grow, filled with warmth and laughter and melody. Doing anything other than music just feels strange, there's no guilt in just being what you are. Whatever the outcome, this is the road you must follow, however much life's boundaries allow. Your will, your desire are just too much to ignore. Your needs can just be accommodated somehow, and society's needs are second fiddle, playing rhythm to your lead. Although, society would also benefit by sharing in your joy, no? Anyway, you don't think about it too much, you just keep on playing and singing, outside of your job as a dental assistant.
But let's say you're interested in ... actually, nothing really, at least not anything you particularly want to do, at least not yet. The world still feels so unfamiliar to you, even as the years roll by. Teeth have come and gone without leaving any magic sparkle. The house is often quiet. Actually, sometimes even too loud, and you long again for the silence. Work is a chore, but it breaks the day, at least. It would be good to just get out and have a laugh. Will your pattern ever be matched by something? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe too late. Maybe you won't be able to work it into a job. Maybe you won't be able to work it around a job. Maybe your needs must be fed in other ways. Maybe society's capacity to match your pattern is just not all that big. Statistics. Chance. Luck. Maybe that social curve could be skewed in your favour, perhaps in all our favours, with further evolution and engineering. But maybe that's for the you of another lifetime, someone else sitting at the same cross-point of characteristics. You wish them well.
A lot must go into developing and maintaining the will for, well, anything and everything. And we are all pushed and pulled by multiple factors that dominate what choices we feel that we have at any one time. Our various psychologies, backgrounds, social conditions, financial conditions, all of it goes into the pot and affects us, affects what we want to do and what we can do. That's not to say there is any one specific recipe to achieve any one particular thing. Artists, scientists, politicians, teachers, all sorts of people, have been generated from both rich and poor backgrounds, from both happy and troubled family life, from both light and dark driving forces. But having the will and desire for something is not enough on its own, as has been alluded to. That will can only be enacted given the right conditions, and the right level of control. This is the essence of the following component of our nexus - power.