I once read that motivation is a key underlying belief in realizing your potential. Perhaps because of a proclivity to procrastination; the value of “getting motivated” is significant to me. In Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us he offers an algebraic basis of motivation called the “asymptote.” It is a curved line that approaches a straight one, but never quite reaches it. Both straight and curved lines travel into infinity never meeting. For me, the relationship between the two lines is asymptotic. If the straight line is your goal, purpose, mission you can, on your curved line, approach it and get really close to it, but you can never reach it. It is impossible to fully realize.
Pink notes professional athletes are asymptotes — always striving to have a better game than the last. There’s a certain frustration to this kind of existence too. As Pink notes: “Why reach for something you can never fully attain? But it’s also a source of allure. The joy is in the pursuit more than the realization. In the end, mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.”
Each of us possesses, deep inside us a spark of original authenticity that contexts our life. It can often be called life’s purpose, our intention, the mission of our life. As children we knew this intention, although we didn’t have the skills or ability to recognize or verbalize it. We lived it. We were it. Then, as we grew older, the “conditions” of our culture and society, like the sands of a desert, blew over us, covered us, buried that intention deep and out of sight, until it no longer was seen. But like some ancient mythical city, we still held the legend inside of us. We yearned to wipe the sands of time away and behold the treasure.
For many of us it is in our 40s and 50s that the desire and need to uncover the intention grows and foments in us. Since 2002, in and out of programs, I have been attempting to “discover my intention.” And for me that intention is expressed in the term: “elusively seeking.” It was a realization I would always be seeking and journeying towards the intention the universe held for me but would never really be able to find or grasp it, as it was so elusive. Ironic, eh? The only conclusion and course of action I draw from this, however, is brilliantly simple, that: undertaking the journey is my highest purpose.
Well, I never thought I would find a mathematical formula for an intention statement!
What I find interesting is that the straight line never meets the curve. They travel to infinity. That’s a concept I’ve been playing a lot with over the last decade. It means there is no END. And I’ve noticed recently that my motivation to act on something always gets sucked out of the air by thinking about the “end” or the “meaning” or the “reward”. It’s the frustration Pink talks about. If it’s all about the end and the end is way too far in the future, then that really requires way too much action. And that in a nutshell bogs me down.
So the solution and what I have re-discovered is instead of worrying about deadlines, end products, outcomes, results … if I stay in the moment, not consciously considering or choosing a future, a goal, an intention or purpose, I get into action, stay motivated, and things just get done.
And I intend to do just that, play in the present for a while. And I can’t say I’m feeling an angst, fear, need or desire about next steps. They’ll happen as they happen. There is a “settling into,” a deeper deepness, I can feel physically manifest in my body. And that is new … and an old feeling, remembered from an earlier time.
(originally drafted August 20, 2013)