Human potential is a weird thing. Together, we’ve pulled off the perfect conspiracy theory. The idea that the guy walking on the moon is 99% chimp is a thought that needs you to be on a forest of weed, minimum. Of course, since no guy walked the moon, he can’t be a chimp and is, therefore, a bouncer at God’s casino seems plausible on just a gardenful. If your 23andme report came out 96% Proboscis Monkey, 3% Goji berry, and 1% Genghis Khan, you are going to want your money back. 

Whatever the origin, our growth story is unfathomable. It’s the greatest showcase of our potential. And yet somehow we have stopped talking about it. Because it means sharing credit with over a hundred billion people and the last time that happened, La La Land won best picture.

The quest to find this seemingly underrated hidden ability has been reduced to another public spectacle. Helping you find your potential is the new sleazefest. The vapid irony that is status approval on the outside to validate your higher internal state is possible only in an age of massive desperation. And the belief that someone else can help you reach this state requires a preexisting condition known as delusion. Or, as social media companies call it, oil.

While we’d all hate for our potential to go waste, we won’t stand for watching someone else’s potential go down the sewer pipe. If you are even slightly good at something, you better do everything to become great at it, even if you hate your life in the process. Of all different the ways to quit, this is the most cataclysmic.

Because we confuse potential with achievement.

It’d be ridiculous to look back at the history of humanity and ask what we achieved. Post modernity’s stunted growth is a consequence of this hip fatalistic belief that we have done little with ourselves and may have even degraded in our potential. Sounds scarily intelligent, but it’s one of those empty earwax of philosophies that make us deaf to understanding the immensity of the present, so we can continually do much more with the future.

Finding your potential isn’t finding the answer to what only you can do with your life. This isn’t the Marvel Universe. Finding your potential is being open to life and its insanely long magic trick to turn monkey into God. We may be halfway into the trick. But instead of moving us toward this higher openness, our idea of potential is taking us to a closed, individualized state where we want to find out how to do the trick ourselves. On ourselves. Before anyone else.

It’s why with one another, potential has become a selfish measure of higher possibility — instead of recognizing the miracle, the impossibility of everything that surrounds us and the part the collective played in making that happen. There is only one potential, and it is preserving and furthering the miracle that is human consciousness. When it dies, we go with it.

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