It seems that the majority of people enter the world at a particular level of life, find it comfortable, and stay there. I'm sure we all know people who were amazingly talented musos, or writers, or graphic artists, or sports people, or business-minded types, who tried a bit of this and a bit of that and could have gone on to do so much more, but were just comfortable where they were at and never achieved anything like what they were capable of. Or maybe they weren't entirely comfortable, but not uncomfortable enough to actually do anything about it.
Then there are those that are born at a particular level and are trapped there, and can't get out - minority groups, lower socio-economic groups, crime- or poverty-stricken families, foster children, street kids or orphans, etc. They may have all the talent in the world, and they may want to move to the next level, but they can't. They either don't have the mental and emotional resources and discipline, or they have factors in their life actively seeking to keep them where they are, maybe even pull them down to an even lower level, or both, and they never move on.
On the other side of the spectrum we also have those that are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and their bum in the butter, who are a little bit too comfortable and lazy, and for completely different reasons, never learn to develop the mental and emotional resources and discipline to keep functioning at that level, and whose lives gradually decline until their children's children are back at the poverty line.
So what is it about the select few who really achieve something worthwhile in life, and change society and the world for the better? It's funny how they all seem to have risen above some form of massive adversity in their life - maybe they were the wrong race, or their parents were on the wrong income level, or they were just born on the wrong side of the tracks - and beaten all the odds to become something and someone amazingly spectacular. Look at people such as Dr Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela, or Stephen Hawking. What would the world be like if they hadn't resisted all downward-pulling forces and risen above the norm to be and do great things?
I think the key is the fact that they were not comfortable at the level of life they were at, wanted to move to the next level, and persistently tried and persevered until they made it there.
And it's not necessarily the level they arrived at that seems to make the difference - it appears to be the act itself of rising up that did the trick and released positive energy on a scale sufficient to change the world.
Maybe all the good that the world needs is sandwiched in thick layers between these levels, and one human being puncturing it to move up to the next one makes it spurt everywhere. Conversely, as one descends to a lower level, negative energy is released and has a detrimental effect.
It's also worth noting that the means by which one ascends to these upper levels is different for each person. This means two things to me:
1. It's no good copying what someone else has done - it was their journey, not mine, and it won't work the same for me; and
2. It's no good comparing myself to anyone else - they are on their journey, and I am on mine. The steps we both take towards our own individual goals, no matter how similar they may seem, are bound to be wildly different.
Now anyone that has read my Facebook status updates knows how egalitarian I like to be about these things, but I can't help thinking that whether you are a theist, a deist, or an atheist, the goal of life seems to be the same - grow, develop, expand, learn. Maybe we have a divine destiny to rise above our purely mortal existence into transcendence - or maybe we are being beckoned by the forces of nature into new realms of evolutionary development that go beyond necessity and survival of the fittest. Who really knows for sure? But for me it's a comforting thought that although my beliefs may be fundamentally different to my neighbour's, we can still both work together towards the same goal, and succeed, and both be the better for it.
Anyway, I've spent all evening beginning my latest attempt to break into the next level and it's scary! Yes it will bring increased rewards, benefits, knowledge and insight, but it also always brings increased responsibility and opposition from those downward-pulling forces. But at least I've busted through enough levels already to know it and be prepared for it.
Here's to climbing that ladder ;-)