Individualism and Potential

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them”

Marcus Aurelius


In my first book, In the Centre Lies Virtue, I place great stress on how we have come to be, how we humans happen to be in the predicament that we are. This article is a slight spoiler because one of the greatest wonders of human existence that I talk about is that we are made from stars. Now hold on, stars didn’t get together in a kind of laboratory to discuss the ins and outs of the biology, chemistry and psychology of our species, but instead the road from stars to human took a hell of a long time and there were lots of natural twists and turns along the way.

Everyone has heard, well everyone living in the 21st century anyway, of Einstein’s equation; E=mc2 within his theory of special relativity. This equation simply means the energy produced is equal to mass times speed of light (squared). So what has this got to do with stars and in particular what has it got to do with each of us? Well to be honest – everything. The larger stars (with greater mass) produce much more energy, and as they continue to burn through millennia they produce the lighter chemical elements – represented by some of the squares on that poster in chemistry class that no one gave a shit about – the periodical table.

These lighter elements are not sufficient on their own to fulfil the requisite diversity of elements needed to produce us humans. We need the heavier elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen which need huge amounts of energy to be produced. These elements are produced when the large stars end their lives and explode in the brightest fireworks in the universe – supernovae. These explosions, which are happening continuously throughout the universe, scatter the elements necessary for new stars, new planets and the opportunity of life across space.

These elements, which I will now refer to as atoms, are the very thing you are made of – trillions and trillions of atoms gathered together to produce that person you look at in the mirror when your brushing your teeth in the morning. Pull your sleeves up and slowly look at the back and front of your arms, spread out your fingers and look at your hands, twist your feet around in little circles, stand up and lift each leg up and down slowly, you are the ultimate collection of atoms and the atoms in your right foot probably came from a different star than the atoms in your left – you are here today because of stars. You don’t have to “see yourself running with stars”, you are stars, or the Logos, representing itself in human form.

Not only are you representing the Logos physically but more importantly you have a mind, a psychological, and an immaterial wonder of the universe – also known as consciousness. This development of consciousness mirrors the life of a star also. You start out not having a clue about anything and everything is a form of chaos. Like the chaotic dust clouds in space that are innately driven to form order – to collect together to form stars, our early minds are chaotic and are innately driven to form an organised consciousness with its own unique potential.

An important aspect within stoicism is self-denial, or as it is better known – delayed gratification. This ability to resist impulses, like the slow growth of a star, gives us more time to build a better understanding of the world and ourselves, building more and more potential as the knowledge increases and the understanding improves. Like the star, we also have a limit, a time to stop ingesting knowledge, stop incorporating wisdom – and instead the time has come for the individual to, like the supernovae, unapologetically and boldly explode his potential onto the world.

The longer the period of learning, and usually the more the individual suffers, the greater the potential he has, and therefore the more impact the individual has on the world. He has become The Hero in his own story; he dwelt on the beauty of life. He has fulfilled and expressed his own innate, unique potential because he was able to stay stoic – he was able to be his best, he… Mastered Himself.


“There can be no progress nor achievement without sacrifice, and a man’s worldly success will be by the measure that he sacrifices his confused animal thoughts, and fixes his mind on the development of his plans, and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance”

James Allen, As a Man Thinketh


Vincent Kennedy – Author, In the Centre Lies Virtue.