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The Through Line

Audio Version

There’s an element of our psychology that runs through everything we do — an integral, organic essence that zigzags like a dramatic line chart, dotted with significant events over the course of a lifetime. The y-axis naturally represents emotional impact.

In our early years, this line may appear quite erratic, rising and falling to extremes in amplitude, initially violent as an earthquake, before gradually leveling off as we mature and develop a temperament. Every lifetime is allotted an assortment of upheavals and disruptions to weather and endure. Discovery, emergence, and origination, as well as wisdom, experience, and intelligence, are present along the path to ultimate knowing (which some refer to as “death”).

A person’s through line is almost always a question. When you look even briefly at the life of someone like Haben Girma, the question that comes to mind is, “Why not?” She is the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law. She advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities, but she is much more than that. In the linked video, you’ll see why I believe this question is the clear, central theme in her unique perspective on life. Why not learn to surf, travel to feel and experience the larger world, pursue improv and become a comedian, and earn a law degree from the best school in the country? All while advocating for technological innovation and accessibility.

This immediately signals to me an “able-bodied” perspective — the common practice of the majority of us attempting a healthy, self-limiting, or regimented behavior. We may have the ability (or potential) to be and do anything, but we almost certainly do not have the capacity to do everything. Haben views her so-called disabilities as a powerful focusing lens, providing her with the will, energy, and discipline to push herself, and undoubtedly those around her, to embrace the struggle and use it to propel themselves unapologetically toward their goals in life. We humans require something to push against — a contrast or conflict — to help us define our choices and motivations, to push us to discern and distill a deeper meaning in life. Jordan Peterson has a lot to say about this.

Whether it’s something we were born with (or without), a traumatic or joyful initiating event or environment, or a theme that emerges simply by following your feet and living life in the open, look for the question hiding behind your causal and reactive behaviors. Allow that awareness to help you better understand yourself and determine the next steps toward living your best life.

Your through line represents that guiding, gentle hand. It is an emotional, energetic, unconscious bias that you carry with you at all times. When acknowledged and consciously focused on, it has the potential to reframe and enrich both the mundane and the magnificent.

Solvitur ambulando