What It Takes

What It Takes

Everything That Rises Must Converge

By Callie Oettinger | Published: March 1, 2013

The rain drops picked up speed as I headed west along the highway.

They hit the windshield, hesitated, and then sought each other out, going from individuals to a series of streams flowing upward— until the wipers arrested their development, cleared the deck, and new drops hit and started up again. A drop, a hesitant movement—Which way up?—and then convergence.


And Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge” title landed in my head.

Everything that rises . . .

Earlier in the week, Steve shared a project on which he was working, a few days later he and I received two separate e-mails, one from a friend, another from a stranger, with messages that related to the project. Neither the friend nor the stranger knew about the project.

Timing?

Serendipity?

And then there was my drive and the rain and Flannery O’Connor popping in to sort things out—and before Flannery, there was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.

Flannery pulled the last line from a section of Chardin’s “The Omega Point” to title her collection of short stories.

I don’t share the religion from which Chardin’s thoughts evolved, or which Flannery incorporated into so much of her work, but I can’t help but embrace the concept that everything that rises must converge.

Those rain drops . . . There was something to them. As the minutes on the road stretched into hours, my mind wandered. The windshield became the flat plane of an alternate universe, and each drop was the track of a different person, hitting, wavering, then rising and converging—or being knocked off the map. And I was the outsider, watching, waiting, testing, holding the wipers as long as I could, changing their speeds, watching the difference between the hard rain a fallin’ and the “spit” kicked up off the road by tractor-trailers, long after the rain had stopped.

*  * *

How many times have you had an idea, and knew there was something to it? Something bigger, something you had to act upon, but dropped it? And the idea, so vibrant, with hard-to-miss Technicolor outlines already giving it shape, made you skip a beat, jump, smile—and you still let them go.

I’ve had those ideas. Many have drifted like a pleasant dream—one I’ll always remember as good, even if I can’t remember what it was about.

Some I acted upon and the wiper came and knocked them out. Didn’t work. I moved on. But the ones that worked… There’s always been that convergence. When I questioned, hesitated for a second like a new drop on a windshield, someone or something else came along and joined me going toward the top.

It’s always been like that.

I don’t know how to control it—what the difference is between the drops that make it up and the ones that are wiped off. Closest I can tell, the ones that make it on my car are the ones that landed with the greatest volume, and start toward the top. Perhaps those are the more fully-formed ideas. Or, in some cases, perhaps there’s a bit of luck involved.

The one thing I know is that there is convergence and it came together last week.

I can’t tell you the steps—other than that sometimes, letting those ideas rise, like a balloon released from the grasp of a child—without a plan, sometimes on accident, just seeing where they will go—works. And once it’s up, there’s work keeping it afloat, moving up long after the helium has seeped out and the idea has to rise on its on merits. But when it gets there . . . It’s a welcome breeze on a hot summer’s day at the beach, miles of new powder on a pristine ski slope, the first run of a child who is barely able to walk. It’s all those good things coming together, the cream at the top.

Eventually . . . Everything that rises must converge. Just keep it rising. . .

Posted in What It Takes

9 Responses to “Everything That Rises Must Converge”

  1. March 1, 2013 at 11:34 am

    LOVE this! Soo I wrote this on my FB: “From Steve Pressfield’s blog, who is the author of “The War of Art” and other books that are written for anyone really, not just artists. He contends that what we battle is “resistance”, that it is a Satan/demon in our lives, attached to our thoughts like breath; always there. I keep “The War of Art” , “Do the Work” and “The Warrior Ethos” by my computer to remind me to DO THE WORK! I love Pressfield’s weekly blog as well, cause it reminds me to update my routine, to stand up against resistance, the evil that is acutually me, with his message to “do the work”. He offers insights into the world of writing that does not cross my path like they do his. It is so darn honest but in an intelligent way. There is a difference.” THANK YOU Mr Pressfield, I am a fan.

  2. March 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Had to pull out my copy of O’Connor’s story and reread. One line shows what at least some of the world thinks of us writers: “. . .the woman across the aisle said in a loud voice, ‘Well that’s nice. Selling typewriters is close to writing. He can go right from one to the other.'” Reminds me that the true rewards for our work are those moments of “convergence,” not accolades from folks who may not understand what we do anyway.
    Thanks for the post!

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 8, 2013 at 3:11 am

      S.J. – Just started re-reading A Confederacy of Dunces and the typewriter line you mentioned could have lived within that book, too, out of the mouth Ignatius’ mother, pointed in his direction. So there’s a little more convergence . . .

  3. March 1, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    What a treat to be reminded of De Chardin, with his nearly heretical beliefs that the entropy of a cooling universe is balanced by a force toward organiziation often hidden from us. Callie, your post is one more bit of convergence for this raindrop, driven toward something seemingly important while only deciding to follow the muse, to do the right thing in the right way as best as I am able. Thanks.

  4. March 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    First, the visuals remind me of so many times when I myself have surrendered to the unpredictable dance on my windsheild. Second, the convergence, the sweet, sweet inevitable convergance… It’s happening as we speak and I’m grateful for every drop. Thank you, sir.

  5. Basilis
    March 3, 2013 at 1:28 am

    I don’t have to add anything to what is commented above, or to what is written in the post.

    Anyway, it’s a fine article!

  6. March 3, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Callie – Enjoyed this.

    Thanks!

  7. March 5, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I was asked by a new friend (met here) to elaborate on my de Chardin reference. I went to my bookshelf to look for my ancient copy then realized that was silly. Here is the Wikipedia link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phenomenon_of_Man

    Then this caught my eye:

    “In Teilhard’s view, evolution will culminate in the Omega Point, a sort of supreme consciousness. Layers of consciousness will converge in Omega, fusing and consuming them in itself. The concentration of a conscious universe will reassemble in itself all consciousnesses as well as all that we are conscious of. Teilhard emphasizes that each individual facet of consciousness will remain conscious of itself at the end of the process.”

    The idea of Omega Point reverberated like a church bell , especially in reference to Callie Oettinger’s column about “convergence,” then thinking about sharing information instantly via links, then realizing I often get the feeling on Steven Pressfield’s blog of being part of an energy that has its own momentum, separately aware but sharing direction.

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 8, 2013 at 3:04 am

      Thanks for this, Erik. I’ve “known” Flannery so well – to the point I’m comfortable calling the long-past author I’ve never met by her first name, as a friend – but know little of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Having suggestions from those who know his work – on where to start going deeper – is helpful.