Looking back over my life, I can see the most amazing patterns emerge. Connections and synchronicities are always there—whether we can spot them in the moment or not. This is a Universe where there are no accidents. Here’s one example:
When I was 27 and working as a counselor in a high school in Michigan, I gave a talk to the parents one night about what I hoped to offer their sons and daughters that school year. The next day a student named Nancy came into my office with a book. Her mother had attended my talk the night before and decided to offer me a bonus volume she had received from the Book-of-the-Month Club. Nancy explained that, based on what I had said in my talk, her mom thought I would like this compendium of great thought—a collection of work by famous philosophers, scholars, and poets. Amazingly, that book changed the course of my life.
It happened that I was scheduled to talk to my new doctoral advisor at Wayne State University that night. I had to declare a plan, a direction for my course of study. I had hours to pass after school and before my appointment at Wayne State so I sat down to take a look at Nancy’s mom’s book. There I read an essay by Abraham Maslow called “The Whole Man.” Maslow argued that instead of spending time investigating the behavior and treatment of the most troubled and dysfunctional people, psychologists should take a new tack and study the lives and habits of the self-actualized person. “The study of self-actualized people must be the source of a whole new universal science of psychology,” said Maslow. He had observed a small percentage of people who appeared to live at an exalted level of consciousness—the self-actualized.
By that night when I met with my advisor and mentor Dr. Mildred Peters at Wayne State, I had completely changed my plans for doctoral study. I told her, “I don’t want to study what’s wrong with people. I want to study what’s right.” The only difference I had with Maslow was the idea that only a small percentage of humans were capable of becoming self-actualized. If one person can do it, I thought, then why can’t everyone do it? And so began my course of study into how lives can be made better through self-awareness. When we realize who we are, when we find our highest selves, there are no limits.