Here is a dangerous idea: You have no idea what the consequences of your actions will be. Typically, the product of your action will fail utterly to do justice to your original intention. You set out into the world to do something. But something completely different happens, something you never intended.
This seems to be how life works. Throw reason out the window. Throw intention in the trash. Burn your plans. Chance, not your will, is destiny.
We forget, we’re always forgetting where we come from… How did it all begin? Where did the greatest invention of all time (human consciousness) emerge from? Consciousness grew out of unconsciousness.
And so goes the history of so-called progress: consciousness planning does not propel us into new spaces, the unconsciousness does.
Alex Flemming was studying grapes and he forgot to clean up one night, and the next day when, in his words, “When I woke up just after dawn, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I suppose that was exactly what I did.” And this is how Penicillin was invented, a guy studying grapes too tired to clean up after a hard day’s work.
Being right is a fundamentally conservative and static place. What is there left to do? You’re right. That is a closed and totalizing world. Mistakes, on the other hand, push us forward. They mess things up, and force us to compile them back together in new, perhaps better, ways.
The alphabet was a mistake. Writing emerged at first for accounting. And evolved into a rich communication tool for entertainment, data, and spirituality. Even the invention of the printing press was haphazard, a result of Gutenberg patch-working different technologies together.
Electricity too came about only from a sequence of beautiful and serendipitous mistakes and events.
Amazon began as a bookstore. Google was a search engine. Today, its hallmark products are Gmail and Android. Facebook began as a platform called “Facemash.” The point was to rate how hot people on a college campus were. The Twitter guys were originally working on a podcasting platform. Who knew?
The point of the Enlightenment was an idea of control and arrogance. Humans are rational creatures, therefore we can control the world and its events. Moreover, with logic we can deduce objective truths about life and how we should live. There is some truth to this; perhaps our conscious plans can affect the next stage of innovation. But that will not define it. What will define it will be the unconscious organization underlying our conscious planning. Put simply, something out of our grasp is determining the future.
What are you trying to do? What will you actually do? The answer, I humbly propose, must be drawn from without. Because something much bigger than you is in the driver’s seat.