Overcome Your Own Potential
Waking up to your life can lead to great things
There is a wonderful movie that came out a few years back called Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It stars Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman. I watched it the other day with my kids and I found it absolutely enchanting.
I had actually forgotten all about some of the amazing lines in it until this past Sunday in church when my friend Darren Dickens used a scene in his class lesson. I have a personal pet peeve about people ruining movies for me, ever since an unfortunate episode involving The 6th Sense, so I promise not to offend here. You are in safe hands.
There is one line that sticks in my head more than any of the others in this brilliant movie, and it takes place when Magorium, the owner of the magical toy store, is talking to Mahoney, his shopkeeper played by Portman. She is struggling with finding her own way in the world and she feels overwhelmed by her circumstances and even her own potential.
He faces her, lines his toes up with hers and extends a hand. He says simply, “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”
Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.
Now those are some powerful words. Those words speak to a part of me that gets stuck in dirty dishes and traffic jams. When my days start to run together in one long string of grocery store runs and paperwork trails, I know that I need a few moments to let this line sink in.
Life isn’t just something to endure. It is an occasion that calls for you to put your best foot forward. Rising to an occasion is an act of bravery. It takes tremendous courage to stand up and access the best parts of yourself – to see if you really have what it takes to engage in your own life. Sometimes it’s easier to hold back just a little and keep the illusion that you could do something if you wanted to. It can be a painful thing to reach for something with all you’ve got only to miss it by a mile – or even worse – an inch.
But I, for one, think that the rising just may be more important than the getting. It’s in the rising that we see what we’re really made of – and in doing so (sometimes especially when we do miss) – we actually make ourselves better.
I can rise to the best part of myself in the midst of a redundant battle with my kids. I see things from their perspective, I pull down my wall of defense, and I examine what I’m doing that might be contributing to the problem.
I can rise to the best part of myself when I face the things I have been avoiding. I call my friend who I’ve ignored, I open and pay all the bills that I’ve stashed in the drawer, and I stop by my widower neighbor’s house just to say hello.
And I can rise to the best part of myself when I do something that scares the heck out of me just to say that I did it.
For a long time, I’ve thought that a successful day meant one in which I could cross off all the things on my to-do list. But you know what I’ve found? To-do’s are like the mythical Hydra creature. You cut off one head and two replace it. If you’re good at your job and you get things done, you will be asked to do more. That’s just the nature of the beast.
I’m starting to realize that I can’t measure success that way. I end up going to bed feeling like a failure regardless of how many things I got done. So lately, I am trying out a new measurement on for size. One in which I get done what I can get done and leave the rest for tomorrow. My new measurement of success will be the answer to these questions instead:
Did I face the challenges in my life with the same gusto that I did as a kid - when nothing was out of my reach?
Did I rise up?