A Formula for Power

Who is the boss? Where can I place my complaints so that they are heard truly, without judgement or bias, without the heavy influence of political interests or trends? Because interest seems to lie wherever I reach for stability.

I remember chemistry. The elements, looking at me from their table, so familiar by name: Iron, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Gold. I thought of each like a chess piece on a board, with its own set of moves in various circumstances. But in class we would unravel them, take them away from their physical selves and study them in their number form, a kind of dissection that made them strange and blurry as calculations upon calculations created a stew of formulas that made no sense to me. I later found out that our calculations were algebraic. But at the time it had no meaning to me at all, and even though my grandfather dished out a lot of money for me to attend a private school. There I was, looking at walls as the numbers danced around, while my hardworking classmates seemed to play the formulas with ease. But all I remember is how beautiful the sun was outside, how the grass appeared to be a shimmering green lake, how I wanted to smell it, to touch the fibers and feel the wet from the morning’s rain underneath. The chemistry teacher was a kind and slight woman with light blonde hair. She told me that it was alright that I was doing badly, “you’re just not going to be a chemist.” So cliche: an invitation for resignation. So that’s what I did.

The chemistry and art buildings were in a valley on the hills of which people practiced music at a summer residency in small homes like monks. During the school year there was a ghostly echo of their playing along the mountains. I wish I could be my teacher’s place now. I didn’t respond well to people telling me I was not doing good. I needed affirmation. If only I could have been in her place and looked at me and said. “I see that you’re having a difficult time. I see that. But, usually the things that you have the hardest time with can provide the greatest gifts. I see something in you because you see this is hard. I think that the way you’re understanding this is not working, and I want to show you a different way to do this.” I wish I had been able to tell her how hopeless I felt. How left behind I felt, how I hid behind the apparent intelligence of others to get by (which, of course, didn’t work). I wish, instead of ejecting myself more when the struggle became real, I had told her that I wanted help, that I didn’t understand how she was teaching us.

But I was to proud and she was too busy.

We live in a world that seems prescribed as we walk into it. At the beginning the paths appear to move in some sort of straight line. You’ve seen your role models and mentors, you have watched them seem to turn naturally how they were meant to be. You have also seen people that you don’t look up to, people who are on a different path, who seemed to have caused harm to you or placed themselves in a strange and harmful place in society.

We are told it is easy to become who we are. Here is a school classroom: at first the children look like a group of students, but looking closer you see they are their own worlds. They have their own skills, their own languages, and challenges that are spoken through tapping pencils, hiding under desks, whispering to their friends, gazing out the window, trying their best to become leader supreme and upend the teacher’s authority.

What are each of them looking for? What is each of their paths? To work hard and get straight A’s? Give me a break. Please. Just let me sit down for a second. I’m really tired of that myth.

We can’t rely on other people to make us our best. We can’t rely on other people to see who we are. They could not possibly be able to see the profundity of our depths. I could have been a chemist right now, for heaven’s sake! At 15 I didn’t know, but we can gain these tools at any age. We can give ourselves direction. It’s so easy because you don’t have to change who you are one bit. It’s hard because you have to shed the mindset you grew up with like dead skin.

Imagine all of that that came before is lifted off of you. You are more powerful and beaming with love than you ever thought possible. Here are some roadblocks.

Money

This is easy: I must make money. I must work all the time, and rack in those hours for money.

This is hard: I am worthy of this kind of lifestyle, if I focus on my attentions on this specific sense of value, I will eventually receive the money for that lifestyle if I work with care and compassion and communicate my desires.

Money is not money, money comes from the hands of other people, like little exchanges of power every day. It’s unfortunate, but it is how it is. How we present ourselves in our clothing, our body language, and the way we speak, and adaptability, it will reflect the amount of money we will receive in the end.

Authority

This is easy: Do what this person says because they asked me to.

This is hard: I have my own instincts and free will. Most importantly, I have analytical thought. I have the right to speak up for what I don’t believe in. This person will give me more respect as I set my boundaries.

Speaking up for yourself. This is cliche. But what does it mean? I don’t know! You do. Know who you are speaking to and why. Most importantly (even if the unfairness seems out the window and down the street), you have a better chance of being heard if you speak from a place of love.

Peers

This is easy: She was lucky

This is hard: She worked every day to get where she is now. She had setbacks, she had negative feedback. But she worked through it.

Hard and easy are constructs that separate individuals from the worthy and unworthy. When actions are placed into boxes that define an individual we are all subject to eternal weakness. The parts of ourselves that believe that others are weak are in fact weak points in our own spirits. The more we lift and expect the best of others, the more we receive from them. We all want to find any easy way. But we must come from a place of true love and compassion before anything else. Your circumstance will always be in motion. Change is constant and inevitable. To stay positive and focused takes work. But I believe it will get easier, once you hit your stride.