“If you don't know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.”
The sapient words above come from the wise Henry Kissinger. After a wonderful conversation with one of TEL’s readers, I was inspired to focus this week’s TEL on the man. I think Kissinger is very relevant for us as we continue to CARPE FATUM. Kissinger has been a political scientist since the 50s, a practicer of Realpolitik1, a diplomat and geopolitical consultant. He served as the United States Security Advisor and then the Secretary of State for decades. He is a controversial figure in world politics and I don't seek to praise the man, only to focus on the significance of his words; Any examiner of life would to do well to contemplate them.
In these gelid winter months, as the snow refuses to relinquish its grip on the cities of the north, it becomes very hard to remember to seize your fate–“carpere tuum fatum”. Just before I started writing today’s TEL, I was trudging through the impenetrable blizzard that laid siege to the west coast. My coat soaked, my toes froze. My eyelashes stuck together as the snow bombarded my face. I had to make it to the ferry which would take me home; a mundane feat for the likes of the heroes of our stories, but a tremendous one for the frozen scribe. As I marched through that hellacious snowstorm, no thoughts were in my head but my destination. No thought about my purpose, the meaning of life, the absurdity of consciousness, nothing. I thought about one thing: arriving.
As life beats us down, whether it be by snow, stress, sorrow, cloudy days, busy weeks, impending deadlines or injuries, our contemplative nature is overpowered by our survivalist biology. We’re hardwired to be more concerned with keeping ourselves alive than to ponder the meaning of living.
That’s why Kissinger’s words should be deeply coveted by us Examiner’s of Life. As I trudged through sleet and snow, many others around me succumbed to confusion and panic. They were voicing their concern for the severity of the blizzard out loud to no one in particular. They would stop and ask people what was going on, why the cars weren’t moving, and for how long the roads would be blocked. Many became lost and panicked along the way. Few kept moving towards the destination.
Kissinger reminds us to plot our course ahead of time, not during the crisis. We’ve chosen our fate, and we will do what it takes to seize it! When stress and urgency take over, we may not be thinking consciously about our life, but our destination is still planted firmly in our mind.
You see, that’s what separates the Examiners from the Exhibitioners.
The Examiners learn, read, travel, think and plan to improve their quality of life and state of mind. The Exhibitioner does these things to impress others, to feel intelligent, well-travelled and superior. The Examiner makes it through the toughest of situations through experience, sagacity and force of will. The Exhibitionist is a leaf upon the water–dragged in whatever direction circumstance dictates.
he Examiners intrepidly forge ahead, towards their long-contemplated goal. The Exhibitioners try to look really impressive along the way.
The Exhibitioners take many roads, but they are going nowhere.
Are you an Examiner or an Exhibitioner?
The Golden Scribe
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” -Socrates
1 politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises.