There’s no metaphors I can stretch here.  They’re all too cheesy.  Even though that’s not true–I could sit here for the next two hours trying–they would still be cheap knock-offs.  Perhaps potential is a word like death or delicious that evades linguistic clarity for most of infinity.  It’s a feeling distinct from all others, yet utterly stationary; a fighter jet parked in the hanger, loaded with all the technology I never find a reason to use.  I can’t manufacture my own mental Crimea.  As I turn inward, into the swirl of paint and pain, I feel it.  I am inert, frozen in a horrified grimace, gazing into the utter magnitude of possibility.  No instruments exist to measure what can only be felt, and felt at angles; glanced fleetingly through the plaque of baseline awareness.  Is there anything that we fixate on as morbidly as the emptiness of our own potential?

Nobody notices a parked Ford Taurus.  We will point at the purring Ferrari, or dodge the careening garbage truck, but these are movements, actions, eventualities.  These verbs exist by virtue of being verbs.  Have you ever noticed how boring the noun is?  “Skyscraper” is the conceptual death knell of every unique piece of urban architecture, just as “tree” is the scourge of every flaking, creekside Aspen.  If we want to break down the physics, neither skyscraper nor tree is actually a noun.  Rather, the words represent the convenient symbol placed on a process of dynamic, ever-changing energy so utterly complex as to defy comprehension.  Does the skyscraper become a verb if it wiggles in the wind?  Is the tree still stagnant if we can see it’s growth before us?

It seems that we view our own potential in the same way, as a noun, a “thing” that exists inside of us, a blimp that puffs in the belly when that one person calls or we get a promising horoscope in the morning paper.  But really, when we check in–really feel into the thing– potential is a faint tickle in the stomach or a warming of the chest or even a quickening of the mind.  It happens, then it’s gone.  Maybe a thought replaces the gurgle, maybe many thoughts tumble over each other, culminating in the inevitability of a new job or speaking to the president about all this inequity, just the two of us.  But then Sports Center comes on.  The spinning fades, there was that thing that could happen, but now there’s Lebron James throwing down a tomahawk.  Left stranded, awash in the concave of a bodily imprint, my ass sinks deeper into the potential for a good nap.

How do I relate to the nebulous blob of potential energy from a mind trained into stasis?  I guess I sit down and write about it.  I stare at it as I would a dead cat or a museum exhibit, waiting for it to transform and move my heavy limbs to reluctant action.  And then, in the moment of verbiage, as the stultified brute lurches awake, I smile and take all credit for the outpouring of nonsense.  But it’s my nonsense, just as a skyscraper is some architects, just as an alleyoop is Lebron James’.  It’s the acceleration of a thing that hates to remain immobile, a dog let off its leash.  And apart from those moments of furious finger yoga, it is nothing.  No, worse than nothing; it’s a mirage, a siren beckoning from the rocky shores.  There is no movement towards; there is only becoming.  And a whole bunch of metaphors where once there were none.





8 thoughts on “Potential

  1. I think it’s important for us to think about whether we are wasting our potential because of what we see as possible inside of ourselves, or if we are wasting it because of what others think of us. Often times others see in us what they want for them, and it can be a dangerous trap to follow those people. Make sense?

    • Yeah I can see what you mean with the projection stuff. I think that potential is so much talk, empty talk until it’s put into movement. In this article I was talking more about that feeling of potential that we have in ourselves.

  2. It’s about imagining surfing successive successful waves of self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Why shouldn’t we dream, if that thing they call “future” is made of dreams?

    Nice to meet you, Potential. May I introduce you to Direction?

    Potential requires direction, after all, don’t you think?

    You’d really be a fine couple o’ story elements.

    Potential and direction, sitting in a tree..

    The could, shoulded into the be.

    No world too big for me.

    Flighty, yet holy.

    Like Inifnity.

    Fly free,

    – T

  3. Man this is great. I can’t understand why its so hard to put down the remote (or in my case, peel myself off the floor as I stare impatiently at my telephone for something more interesting than myself) and just create whatever that thing inside you is asking to become. Maybe its too fleeting, maybe I don’t trust that it’s actually there. But isn’t it amazing when it actually comes out… the other day I had a new understanding of the phrase “two steps forward, three steps back” – its like every time you take action on that “potential” or introduce it to direction (as illustrated very cleverly above) you unleash yet another “layer” of potentiality above where you began. It expands into infinity every time you take another step. Its incredible and debilitating all at once… don’t know if I’m just rambling now, better stop here haha. The song that sparked that thought: Hot Water Music, “Drag My Body”.

    • I love the layers. Once you take the first step, all the associations that lay underneath start to surface. That’s what I love about writing–when you hit a vein, it’s no longer work, it’s learning something that you didn’t know you knew.

      • I have these waves in me
        They will not stop
        The desire to purify an experience
        And to successively brush poetry against it
        in order to present it, this alien intrusion,
        to an unsuspecting crowd, to which unbeknown,
        such instant shortcut to mind purification,
        this left and right download of information,
        mystifying, confusing perhaps, bewildering,
        yet without doubt a part of the puzzle,
        can be absorbed and assimilated and made part of,
        in order to be this link from this elusive past,
        to a future that presents itself to us, vaguely,
        ever sharp, ever fluid,
        ever new, improved, original,
        ever straightforwardly paradoxical,
        like it never was and always will become.

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