“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.” -Walker Percy
Theodore Roosevelt was 13 years old, blazing through the Hudson Valley with his friends on a summer day when he learned an important truth about himself. He watched bewildered as the other boys — the same age with the same rifles — hit seemingly invisible targets out the vague, blue-blur of the sky. He sat back and kept quiet as they took turns reading aloud the words from an advertisement on a distant billboard. It wasn’t that young Theodore couldn’t read. It was that he couldn’t see the letters.
He wrote about what happened next in his journal:
“I spoke of this to my father and soon got my first pair of spectacles, which literally opened a whole new world to me. I had no idea how beautiful the world was I until got those spectacles. While much of my clumsiness and awkwardness was due to general characteristics, a good deal of it was due to that I could not see, and that I was wholly ignorant to that I could not see.”
Roosevelt’s biographer, Edmund Morris, highlighted the impact this moment had on the future president, writing, “Through the miraculous little windows that now gripped his nose, the world leaped into pristine focus, disclosing an infinity of detail, of color, of nuance, and movement.”
Some things in life come along and make you forget about everything else. Forget the lows, the stress, the why-didn’t-they-call-me backs. And then there are other things. Things that come along and make everything worth remembering. Things that shoot electricity and meaning into the vein of everydayness. These things are trying to find us. Trying to get our attention. Waiting, desperately, to add color to our fields of black and white.
It might not feel as dramatic as a nearsighted boy who is given sight, but these moments of inflection are available to us all. Many people droll about, unaware or indifferent to the fact they aren’t seeing the whole picture. They haven’t found — or they’ve overlooked — the one outlet that feeds electricity into everything. They haven’t found miraculous little windows to see the world through.
Have you found yours?
Do you keep it close?
Did you lose its signal amongst the static on your line?
If you’re someone still waiting to hear The Call, first be aware of the possibility. Never forget or doubt that there is something great waiting for you. There is an outlet waiting to feed electricity into everything you do. Waiting to raise the water and part the sea. Waiting to stir the deepest depths of your creative well.
And if you’ve found yours, hold it close. Never allow the static of everydayness to blind you to its importance. Limiting beliefs, external noise, fears of missing out — it will all attempt to derail and shovel dirt over your path. We all must be vigilant in curiosity and our hunger to be, onto something.
Life can be spent waiting for death or searching for truth. Find what is meant for you. What makes you feel alive. What makes you human.
Continue the search until you feel the veil pulled from your eyes and can say with enthusiasm of a young Theodor Roosevelt, “I never knew how beautiful the world was until…”