By Yuri Alkin
They say that once upon a time, there lived a man who wanted to achieve everything he was capable of achieving. He was obsessed with this desire. He ate, slept, and walked with one and only dream: to die, having accomplished every single thing he was able to accomplish.
There were so many things he could do. He felt like the whole world could be his, if he only set his mind to it. At times, he was even horrified by the powers hiding in his mind and heart. He was certain—in fact—he knew that his potential had no limits. He knew that he could accumulate power that would dwarf the power of ancient kings; he knew that he could write books that would shake the minds of generations to come; he knew that he could invent things that would forever change the lives of millions of people. He lived, constantly feeling the power within—and that power knew no bounds.
There was only one obstacle: having such a potential, but only one life, he had to make a choice. He had to decide where to apply all of his enormous abilities. Making that decision was extremely hard, for any choice meant cutting off some future achievements. And so in the meantime, he went to school, graduated, found a respectable well-paid job, married, and bred children. And he spent every minute of his spare time trying to decide where he should apply all his might. Even though he was not interested in applying it to his work, his power was impossible to hide. He was successful in everything he touched, and he earned great respect of the people who worked with him. And all the while, he thought to himself: Imagine what I would achieve once I concentrate entirely on the area of my choice.
Time went by, and he grew older.
Some roads he used to dream about became closed to him. But there was still so much he could accomplish. And he kept thinking hard while working, raising children, dealing with everyday problems, and knowing that his potential had no limits. And most people who knew him were of the same opinion, for it was impossible not to realize this, being around him for a while.
One day, a sudden chest pain made him come home early. He dragged his feet to the bathroom. There, feeling weak and empty, he looked in the mirror. A worn-out, gray-haired man stared back at him. But his eyes, though red and tired, were still full of unrealized potential. He peered into these eyes and, all of a sudden, realized one simple truth. The next moment, the pain pierced his heart again, and it stopped beating forever.
Everybody cried, even those who knew him only slightly. The pain of this loss was staggering. Not only had he been a good man but they also knew what great potential had died with him. True, he had spent his life trying to make the choice, but imagine what would’ve happened had he made it. After all, he was so close to making it, and he hadn’t been that old. He could not have had this feeling of unlimited potential for nothing. His potential was truly unlimited. The choice was about to be made, and very soon he could have achieved anything. His life could have become a shining monument, which would have forever inspired future generations. What a loss! What a tragedy! They cried and cried and cried. And they didn’t know what he had realized the moment before he died.
The truth that came upon him was rather simple. People only flatter themselves by thinking that they could have achieved this or that if not for such-and-such circumstances. Yet this is nothing but delusion. At any given moment, as long as you’ve been healthy and haven’t been thrown into the midst of war, crime or forces of nature, you always achieve everything you can. You simply lack something that is necessary for achieving that goal you’ve never reached—a talent, a skill, willpower, a set of priorities, or something else. Like it or not, realize it or not, believe it or not, but you simply lack it. You just think you’ve got what it takes, and only these insurmountable difficulties have prevented you from reaching the ultimate heights. But in reality, what you don’t achieve is something you’re not capable of achieving.