The seeing issue

I saw an apartment building in the rock and worked until I set it free.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free, said Michelangelo. Innovation, invention, creation. It’s the ability to see things that others do not and set the ideas, process, and products free from a perpetual state of conformity. Like seeing homes on an empty lot.

Those with the toughest stories, the highest hill, the great challenges—like the timeless hero who sets out on the desperate quest—are the lifeblood of the nation. It’s no wonder that in the last few years in a time of historical uncertainty, social unrest and economic chaos, an unprecedented number of new businesses were launched in the U.S. Of course, they were.

“Life piled on life…” wrote Tennyson in Ulysses. If ever words spoken to an age and time, it was then. It is now.

As life piles on life, familiarity blinds. We glance over beauty. We lose wonder. Appreciation fades. And that which we cannot see, we cannot know.

Discovery is vital to the soul—most especially to this nation of restless creators. Possible begins with uncovering the world’s vast opportunity. We must spot the angels in the marble, the homes that are trapped in the stone of regulation, supply chains and cultural dysfunction.

Ulysses. Marco Polo. Frodo. Each—real and imagined—were compelled to take the hero’s journey. The quest for adventure and finally to return the victor. And therein lies the point. The journey home.

Wrote C.K. Chesterton: The whole object of real art, of real romance—and, above all, of real religion—is to prevent people from losing the humility and gratitude which are thankful for daylight and daily bread; to prevent them from regarding daily life as dull or domestic life as narrow; to teach them to feel in the sunlight the song of Apollo and in the bread of epic of the plough.

What is now needed most is intensive imagination. I mean the power to turn our imagination inwards, on the things we already have, and to make those things live. It is not merely seeking new experiences, which rapidly become old experiences. It is really learning how to experience our experiences. It is learning how to enjoy our enjoyments.

Here’s to eyes wide open and angels yet to be freed.

Author: Linda Hoffman