What if you could remember everything you ever learned, heard or read? What if you could focus enough to do anything you’d want in only a small amount of the time it would normally take you? What if you could things you would never have dreamt of because of this ability ? This is the plot of Limitless, the new show that started airing last week on CBS. Based upon the eponym 2011 movie with Bradley Cooper, which was already based on a novel by irish author Alan Glynn (originally called the Dark Fields it was republished under the title Limitless when the movie was released).
The plot of all three of them is about the same. An underachieving guy is given a smart drug granting heightened intellectual, creative, and learning powers, and enabling its user to see meaningful patterns in large amounts of disparate information. The drug gives the main character the ability to learn and analyze at a superhuman rate and recall memories from his distant past. Fascinating. Let’s not dwell on the quality of the movie or the show (I really preferred the book), and let’s start talking about the idea behind it.
What would you do if you could do and be anything ?
What’s so appealing in this story is the idea that we could become smarter, better and be able to do anything just by taking a pill. Writing 100 pages of a novel in a day? Done. Learning Chinese or Swahili in 3 days? Too easy. For insatiably curious people like you and I, that is a promise that can be really appealing. Of course, there is the problem of the side effects, but let’s imagine this fictitious drug existed and you could take it without any problem of addiction. What would you do? How would you live your life? Would you go after money and power ? Would you try and learn as many things as possible? Would you eventually allow yourself to do this thing you’ve always wanted to try but never did?
I guess what I’m trying to ask here is if anything was possible, what would you go after ? Even with this magic pill, you’d still have to work but you could get good at anything you’d want.
In her book Wishcraft, Barbara Sher proposes a great exercise to answer this question. “If you had 5 lives, what would you do with each one?” You wouldn’t be 5 different people. Each time you would be you. But each time you would be allowed to explore a different talent, interest or lifestyle to the fullest. What would you come up with?
Here are the 5 lives I came up with :
- doing what I’m currently doing (aka being a slasher)
- dancer or singer
- Doctor without borders
And now what ? I’ve listed all of these imaginary lives (and could have listed many more) but I can’t possibly live them all ? Of course I can. ANd in a way, except for the number 3, I’m already doing them all. I’m working on my singing skills, doing my own genealogy (and helping others while doing so), and I write every week on this blog.
Now it’s your turn. What would you come up with and how could you try and incorporate the essential components of those lives into your life ? I can’t wait to read your answers in the comments.