Greater Than Her Nature

“Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.”
– Mary Shelly, Frankenstein

As I drink in Frankenstein, a true classic and purveyor of great human truths such as Mary Shelly reminds me that there are mysteries of our nature that even hundreds of years ago people were grappling with. What changes with us, at the most fundamental and basic level, is universal. Time passes and science moves forward, but what we feel, what makes our essence (which is to say, in part, the curiosities which give us momentum), is the same as it always was.

The quote above gave me pause and took up a great deal of time on my flight from New Jersey to Zurich. I found myself continually going back to reread it, and to wonder what my life would have been in the event that I had listened to that advice.

I remember, growing up, that I was never a person who desired to leave her hometown. I never fancied myself a world traveler, never considered I would have a profession that dealt in intangibles and conceptual follies. I was always grounded, stable, safe. So, so safe.

My sister, ever the dreamer, couldn’t wait to get out of our town. But I wanted to stay. I didn’t want to upset my parents, didn’t want to venture into the unknown. I wanted a safe life.

What changed in me? What made me dream? What made me want more? And if I had listened to Victor Frankenstein, would I have stayed?

Once you discover that the place you’ve always known is not all there is, you cannot un-know that. It is a pervasive knowledge that seeps into your understanding of all things.

But this knowledge goes beyond place or thing. It is inside us.

I am not all that I can be. I can be more. I will be more.

That is the true knowledge that drives us forward to discovery.
Perpetual discovery is the forward motion of humanity.
Continued curiosity is the growth of an individual.

Now on the other side of the knowledge that there is always, always more out there, I wonder: How many people will never discover this? Like Victor says, are they happier?

I have witnessed the turmoil that some people experience at being awakened to the vastness of life. It is the weight that crushes us if our position does not match our desired rank. I have watched people cower in fear at the idea that they might have greatness in them. I have watched people deny their gifts in favor of avoiding disappointment. If you do not believe you are special, you do not have to live up to that standard.

I was sixteen when I was awakened to my potential, when I started to become aware that there was more in the world than what I knew or saw or felt.

Two things happened then.

One, I took a filmmaking class. I started to consider where films were made, the history of film, what my imagination might possess, and where that might take me. I made films about death, films that were unknowingly noir and filled with montages of darkness and turmoil. I unleashed an imagination that I was only peripherally familiar with, and I loved it. I loved my imagination like it was my greatest gift (and, I believe, it is).

Two, I met my husband. I don’t know if any one particular thing happened, if any singular event awoken me to the world, except this: I knew that I was beginning a love so great that it didn’t fit in between the cracks. It was explosive.

“…the history books forgot about us, and the bible didn’t mention us, not even once…”
– Samson by Regina Spektor

What awakens us might be something small and seemingly insignificant. We might not be remembered for what fuels us. But if you find a semblance of your place in the world, and if that place exceeds what you have been taught to live within, break free.

Break free.

Have you had a moment where you realized
you wanted to do or be something more?

What was that defining moment in your life?

  • March 9, 2018 - 5:30 pm

    Laila - The picture you started this blogpost with, just says is all… Climbing out of darkness, to discover the opportunities of the world, is the starting point of so many creative souls out there… and not just the starting point. I believe that we always come back to this view, this horizon. We discover our strengths and our desire to create, to do something extraordinary, to be something extraordinary, but then life catches up and keeps us busy with other things for a while. Luckily, we always come back to this origin point, knowing who we are, and why we are here. To think that we can always be more, is inspiring, scary or comforting, depending on where we are at this exact moment.
    Right now I am at the point of climbing out of darkness, trying to remember how to be the fearless version of myself who enjoyed skydiving from 15000 ft on the other side of the planet on the 9th of March many years ago….ReplyCancel

  • March 9, 2018 - 9:17 pm

    Gallagher Green - When I first listened to “Frankenstein” (audiobook) that exact quote really grasped me hard, it is really incredible! Thanks for reminding me of it. 🙂
    To things popped into my head when I read this post,
    #1 The song “I want to break free” by Queen.
    #2 Have you ever read “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin? If not, you should. It is one of my all-time favorites! And also a true classic.
    I don’t know if it was ever one or two things that changed me. I was just like you though, was perfectly happy with the idea of staying where I grow up in Kansas my whole life. But something inside of me gradually started waking up, I don’t know what it is, or even when it started. But now I am planning on settling in France now, I have never been there. But something just keeps telling me that’s where I belong, it’s just a gut feeling, but that enough.
    A big change was when I started to write, I sure didn’t like writing when I was school age. But I did a group story thing on a forum once to waste time in the winter, and I really liked it. Then it turned out that one of the people on the forum is a very successful writer, she said my wright had a lot of potentials. Now bigger story ideas got to writing and the little ones for photos. That was a big pivot for me.ReplyCancel

  • March 10, 2018 - 1:35 pm

    Julie - Brooke, as always, I love reading your blog. You are always so inspiring on so many levels. While reading your blog, I’m thinking, “Oh, this person would benefit from this read, and this friend will totally be inspired, oh, and wait, this other friend, she will truly be uplifted.” So, I usually forward your email to friends, and yep, I’m always on target with those feelings. So, hmmm, I remember the first time I felt like there was something out there I was supposed to embrace. I wasn’t completely sure what that looked like, or even what words to use to describe that thing, that purpose, that me. I can confidently say that I’m still searching for what that looks like and how to embrace it. I know for sure that people will not write books about me, or get an affirmative answer when someone says, “Hey, do you know Julie ….” But, I do know that I need to create art, put a piece of my soul within the creative process, and move forward with love and passion. Well, there is loads for me to ponder on and how to propel myself forward. Blessings on your endeavors in Greece and Thailand; what a great adventure you must be having.ReplyCancel

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