Through sincere actions, we emit our "bat signal" to the world, attracting the ideas, opportunities, and people who resonate.
Last week, in Part-2 of the Emerson series (see Part 1 here), I discussed “the terrible freedom” Emerson endured by going alone in life to pursue his calling. This week, in the final part of the Emerson series, I discuss our "bat signal" -- mine, yours, Emerson's, and my wife's if you keep reading! In short, when we pursue what we’re drawn to do in life, our actions emit our unique “bat signal” to the world. In doing so, our signal attracts new people in fellowship – people whose own “bat signals” resonate with our own.
Quick Recap from Part-2
After quitting his job and losing his wife, Emerson began to question his new direction in life. Seemingly out of options, the 28-year-old made a snap decision. He sold everything and fled to Europe where he eventually gained inspiration from the free-thinking writers he met on his travels. Returning to America with renewed inspiration (and discipline) to go his own way, he wrote and wrote and wrote. Five years later, he published Nature -- a collection of essays announcing his “trust thyself” ethos to the world. This ethos became known as Transcendentalism, which according to historian Ashton Nichols, was “a cluster of philosophical ideas” that among many things, emphasized an individual's need for self-expression while guided by a unique “inner light” that exists in each of us.
Law of Attraction
When you act upon your intuitions and do what you’re drawn to do, the Transcendentalists believed, you are listening to your “inner light” and emitting a unique frequency that is the True You. Consequently, certain frequencies in nature will resonate and be attracted to you; these frequencies come to you as ideas, opportunities, or friends. But to receive, you must give – and that means doing the work.
This law of attraction certainly occurred for Emerson who eagerly did the work. Once he began expressing himself through his essays, speeches, and interactions he began emitting his unique frequency – his bat signal! -- to the world.
In his essay, “Circles,” Emerson describes how the frequency you emit forms the center point of your first circle – one that forms just around you. The frequency from your inner circle, he insists, then acts like a radio tower emitting your frequency to the world. Attracted to your frequency will be ideas, opportunities, and people who resonate. These attractions and connections will then grow your initial circle into wider and wider circles.
“The life of man,” he writes “is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles.” How far these circles extend, he continues, “depends on the force or truth of the individual soul.” In other words, the power of your “bat signal” is based upon the deep truth of your expressions.
Only when he trusted thyself, went his own way, and did the work, did Emerson established his first circle. Eventually, through his essays and speeches, he emitted his true frequency to the world – resulting in new and wider circles around him. Once other intellectuals read and resonated with his ideas, new friendships took root and blossomed. Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau and more gravitated towards Emerson’s ever-brighter bat signal. Once those frequencies swirled into a harmonious back-and-forth wavelength, the Transcendentalist movement was born and Emerson had built one serious fellowship!
One more thing: Ralph Waldo Emerson was no longer alone.
Many within Emerson’s widening circles (including Emerson) began to periodically meet at each other’s homes to discuss philosophy and literary topics they were drawn to. Though they called it “the club,” history remembers their circle as the Transcendental Club. Topics of discussion included the essence of religion, pantheism, mysticism, poetry, and a hell of a lot more to blow your mind. While Emerson going his own way alienated some old friends, jealous family, or resentful clergy, he also attracted a new group of friends. His publications and success did not press on his new friends’ existing wounds; instead, his work inspired them to write works evoking the Transcendental spirit of self-reliance, creativity, and a love for the natural world.
Through the Transcendentalist Club, Emerson learned that when you follow your heart you will make dear friends you've yet to even meet. Almost two centuries later, I know this to be true.
Chanda’s Circle of Fellowship
My wife Chanda epitomizes Emerson’s example of “going your own way” and the fellowship it (ironically) creates. Hammered to cynical bits by 12 years at an LA law firm, Chanda was eager to escape her professional dread and pursue a new direction in life. But there was one little problem: she had no idea what she wanted to do.
She hadn’t had a true passion since cheerleading in high school. That’s because since then, she had a single mission focus: attend the best law school and work at a prestigious firm. Once she succeeded, she realized she hated it! Yet, without “a passion,” she didn’t know where to turn… so she just began to write and write and write in her journal, hoping she’d attract answers or opportunities to her frequency.
What was she drawn to? What would she become? For more than a year, no answers came back. It felt like nothing was responding to her bat signal. Frustrated, more than once I saw that journal fly across the room, tears trailing behind it, crashing into the wall.
One day, someone invited her to a trapeze class on the Santa Monica Pier. She went. She loved it. But running away and joining the circus didn’t seem desirable or realistic. She did, however, love to trapeze -- so she kept going each week. One warm Saturday, as she swung back and forth above Santa Monica Bay, she noticed a few women spinning, flipping, and twisting their bodies around a large steel hoola-hoop hanging from a 12-foot beam adjacent to the trapeze rig. “What is that?” she asked. “It’s called a Lyra,” someone answered. Hmmm… As a former gymnast and cheerleader, she liked what she saw. So she began practicing Lyra at the pier.
While she flung across the trapeze and spun around the Lyra on weekends, she practiced Pilates during the week, expanding her circle of friends to include her Pilates teachers. And then it happened – she walked into the studio for a Pilates class and saw a sign promoting a Pilates teacher trainer program. “That’s it!” she thought. There and then she decided to become a Pilates instructor.
With ten seconds of courage, she walked into her boss’ office and said, “I’m no longer working with X attorney who makes me miserable, and I’m also going part-time. If that doesn’t work for you, then consider this my resignation.” Afraid he'd lose her completely, he agreed to her part-time status.
For the next six months, Chanda earned her Pilates certification while working part-time as an attorney. Once certified as an instructor, she quit the law altogether and began her new life teaching Pilates, swinging on the trapeze, and spinning from the Lyra.
Eventually teaching Pilates became a bit of a grind (though she still practices Pilates often), so back to the journal... But this time she wrote from her ever-expanding circles and a much brighter bat signal. Soon a friend she’d recently met became pregnant and was leaving her marketing job at the world’s largest online Pilates provider. Chanda interviewed as her replacement and got the job! More importantly, the Lyra was not a grind. The Lyra stuck! And a Lyra rig now hangs from the rafters of our garage gym, where she trains often.
Spinning on the Lyra is where I see the “real Chanda.” She’s gotten so good she now performs for friends and family – most recently, performing a “Top Gun” inspired Lyra routine at my birthday party. Ya know… highway to the danger zone.
What Would Emerson Say to Chanda?
I gotta think Emerson would nod his approval to Chanda’s incredible journey towards self-discovery because she “trusted thyself.” Here’s how:
1. She didn’t blow up her life. She first did the hard work to answer, “What do I want to do?”
2. She executed a tactical withdraw from the law while gaining proficiency in a new pursuit: Pilates.
3. She discovered her true passion for Lyra.
4. Like Emerson, she gained Fellowship!
All of this happened because she trusted her intuition. As a lawyer, she knew, “this isn’t me.” Practicing Pilates and spinning on the Lyra, she knew deeply, “this is me.” As a result, her bat signal to the world grew so bright people couldn’t resist her attraction. Opportunities and creative friends who resonated with her signal came into her life, expanding and growing her circle of friends and opportunities.
And best for me: some of my best friends in the world are the husbands and boyfriends of the Pilates and Lyra friends she met along the way. As her circles expanded so did mine.
By pursuing actions we’re drawn to do -- and doing the work! -- new circles of interesting and supportive people will gravitate to you. Why? Because the sincerity of your actions will naturally attract others who are a good fit for your life -- and you for theirs.
In his masterpiece of a book about pursuing the creative life, entitled, The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield leaves us with this message:
"We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us… Yeah, we lose friends. But we find friends too, in places we never thought to look. And they’re better friends, truer friends. And we’re better and truer to them."
To find true fellowship, we (like Emerson and Chanda) must first be true to ourselves by trusting our intuition and “moving on” when necessary.
Each of us has one life to live. We start with intuition, break free with courage, and work hard with discipline. When we do so, even more beautiful, loving, and supportive people will come into our life.