Letting the universe decide (faith vs ambition)

I’m watching a new show called “Kevin Probably Saves the World” – and normally, even though I write fiction about fallen angels, I wouldn’t be that interested in the “plucky but failed protagonist gets help from angels to do small acts of kindness” trope. But it’s actually really good and I’m enjoying it.

It makes me nostalgic for when I was younger and I believed in spontaneous adventures, and looking for signs, and allowed the universe to decide what happens to me. That’s an exciting and fulfilling way to live. When you see patterns in random occurrences, it makes you feel like the universe has a plan – a special destiny for you alone. It also lets you off the hook, because whatever happens to you was “meant to happen.” So you can avoid taking responsibility, or adjusting your behavior.

Years ago, I realized that this was a dangerous way to live. You’d bounce from mishap to mishap looking for patterns and meaning and believing that everything would work out in the end. You’d have “faith” in the universe even when your pragmatic experiences often reflected a destructive cycle of poor choices.

Then I wrote my PhD Thesis on Paradise Lost. I learned how, for most of history, taking personal responsibility to improve your lot in life was a great sin. Pride and ambition were evil and wicked attributes. Questioning, striving, rigorous pursuit of knowledge or even improving (through scientific experimentation and invention) were all negative, dangerous qualities – associated with Satan.

These traditional religious ideologies were challenge during the Enlightenment by poets, artists, writers, scientists and musicians (who, naturally – being creative people – felt great spiritual joy in the creative process: making something NEW, which was what formally condemned them as unrighteous heretics).

But it wasn’t until the early 20th century that this Faustian ideals, rather than being celebrated as Satanic vices, were rewritten as divine virtues. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich have become gospel for the new age movement and even the majority of non-believers now accept that our thoughts become things… but few practitioners of The Secret have also read Hill’s Outwitting the Devil, which record conversations with Satan (full of practical, useful advice for the ambitious – the Devil says at one point, “Who cares where the advice comes from, as long as it’s true.”

I have two points.

The first, is that the universe doesn’t have a plan for us. Our thoughts and actions have millions of tiny points of impact with our experience. Deliberate action taken consistently over a long period can create extraordinary results. But the ocean is vast. Full of mystery and adventure. We could spend our lives seeking out new quests and never run out of rewarding challenges. OR we can decide what we want to create, and harness our creative energy into a magic sword of pure will and command the forces of the universe to conspire in our favor.

As he-man says, “I HAVE THE POWER.”

 

In the first half of my life, I watched for signs and tried to figure out my meaning and purpose. In the second half of my life, I’ve taken the helm and directed my path with personal autonomy and self-direction. Neither are better; but one is much more likely to achieve something of value.

That said, I have a second point, which is that:
A) Even after you choose your path, you can’t always see the clearest route to your destination, and if you’re driving in the wrong direction from where you’ve set your intention, the universe may self-correct to get you back on the right road. So you do need to watch out and expect the unexpected, because it may be a sign that you’re drifting, or that your actions do not line up with your goals.

B) You can’t wait for things to happen to you, or ignore the human aspect of existence. As the angel says in episode 9, “What you do matters. The smallest act of kindness, the simplest expressions of love. It grows.”

I mentioned recently in my 2018 goals, that I’m finally going back to the root of this platform and my seven-step plan for creative independence, and the final goal of that process is luminosity, which means doing good things and using your power and wealth to help others step up.

It’s fine for “starving artists” to give the world nothing but their work, but in an age where everybody is secretly a struggling artist or author with nothing more than a dream, there are a lot more creative people seeking support than there are giving back. Part of why I’d like to create more than I need to live comfortably on, is so I can invest in tools and resources that help more people accomplish their dreams or get over common stumbling blocks.

I focus on practical, technical stuff because, as a Capricorn, I’m pretty tight-lipped with words of praise or encouragement or optimism. I was venting last night about how many self-publishing gurus LIE with false promises like “publishing a book is so easy, anybody can do it and make six figures, no experience or special skills required, even if you HATE writing!”

I would like to be doing more, and as I free up more time, I hope to spend it on high-value projects that will benefit lots of people (instead of solving problems one-by-one).

In conclusion…

On TV and in movies, there’s usually a clear cut division between ambition and faith, where ambition is USUALLY the major character of the villain. But in real life, ambition is not only necessary for progress, change, experience and growth, the deliberate planning and execution of a creative project over many months of years is one of the pivotal acts of human existence – and it’s a beautiful, holy thing.

But that doesn’t mean we should be blind the quiet murmurs of our intuition. I believe in listening to our joy, and doing the thing that makes your chest expand with enthusiasm, rather than clench with dread. So what are you excited about building this year? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to help you get there.

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors build profitable publishing platforms. Find me
  • Nicole

    Finding a balance between ambition and faith is tricky. My
    goal for 2018 is the same as it was for 2017, to be able to support myself as
    an author. I often feel like I’m close but yet I don’t quite get there, so it’s
    easy to lose faith. Then when the faith dwindles, the ambition wanes too. Though
    the last time I had some serious doubts, I signed up for your GP course and now
    it’s easier to have faith as well as focus my ambitions.

    I have no shortage of ambitions or goals now, its just a matter
    of finding the time to do everything you laid out in the course. I’ve taken a
    couple comments you made to heart about launches not being perfect and improving
    with practice, so I’m using this launch as a learning experience to do what I
    can and see how everything works and then do the next one better.

    On another note, the “plucky but failed protagonist gets
    help from angels to do small acts of kindness trope” isn’t a very popular one
    for TV shows, or at least the shows never seem to last that long. I love it though
    and hope Kevin gets a second season.

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares

Share This

Share this post with your friends!