|Emerson's Study. Photo by Benjamin F. Mills, Boston. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
She was thinking of her mother, now in her 70s, who's frozen in a state of not exactly misery, but of futility. Stuck with the idea that there's nothing much left for her to do or be. Limited. Let's call it limited. And this woman, the daughter, feels there's so much possibility for her mother, only her mother doesn't see it.
I can think of people I know like that.
What happens if you never find your unique gift a la Chopra? Really, this is just another form of the question, "What if I don't succeed?"
In fact, her mother's situation is almost zen-like in it's representation of both question and answer.
If I don't find my unique uniqueness, my motivating, Flow-generating, intrinsically rewarding Thing (capital T intentional), then what? I fail?
Sadder than that. That's right, my dozens of readers, sadder than failure.
Not trying. Feeling futile. Being static.
Coincidentally, I opened up my volume of Emerson--alright, I'll admit it was in the bathroom--to "Self Reliance."
I'd quote the first page, but that would be too long. So I'll summarize. Emerson opens by talking about how every time he responds to poetry, music, art or philosphy, it's an admonition to him to pay attention to the flashes of insight or inspiration he experiences himself; that what he responds to in "Moses, Plato and Milton is that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men, but what they thought."
They spoke their minds and felt that what they said was worth saying. Meanwhile the average Joe "dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."
I think I've seen that on a poster before; but I haven't really considered what he means.
In other words, when someone else says what we've thought, we value what we tossed aside with little consideration when we thought it. And if someone else says what we've thought and becomes famous for it, then that really galls. Emerson says this is one of the greatest lessons great works of art have for us. We should trust our inspirations, which he, being a 19th Century man, says are expressions of the divine within us.
"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." I believe Deepak Chopra would've said it that way if he could.
So the point is to be brave and try, to scrabble around in the sand and build sandcastles, to try to express the difficult to express, or to create the difficult to create, because, as Emerson says, "A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace."
So the point, to answer my friend's question, is that her mother's frozen state is not proof of the inapplicability of Chopra's or Emerson's or anybody's notions of approaching success. It's simply and sadly proof of the result of not trying.