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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I

MASSAGE

May 20th, 2021

Action is king. If the entire self-help section at the bookstore could be shoved into a blender, mixed up into a fine past and then distilled for it’s core message it would sound like a Nike advertisement: most problems get solved if you just do that thing that you need to do.  Twitter gurus hold up the sacred notion of taking action and eschew anything that even nods in the direction of overthinking.  For good reason, action is the potent ingredient for change.  That being said, action isn’t exactly the end-all mic-drop that it’s touted to be.  Because, most action doesn’t yield the results we expect.

 

Reality is a partner in conversation who doesn’t always speak the same language.  Perhaps even none of the time.  Taking effective action can often feel like picking out a random string of words from a dictionary of an unknown language and hoping that it makes a coherent sentence: it can take a few tries to hit upon some useful and effective trends.  Indeed it can take quite a lot of tries before anything starts to have a semblance of sense.

 

But with each effort we do push reality around.  Even if it’s not evidenced by the result we want, something is changing, even if it’s just our own idea of what reality is, and how it works.  The whole process isn’t like some crescendo of conflict where one decisive action seizes the day once and for all.  No, taking action is a bit more like massaging reality.  There’s a certain point when the knot in the muscle finally loosens, but there’s never any one single effort that makes it happen, it’s soup of effort, swirling at the problem with hundreds or thousands of attempts to touch some of the result we seek.  Certainly there are moments when things are suddenly different, or we simply realize that things are different, and such instances can be good fodder for celebration, but few things actually happen all at once.  Usually such an instance comes at the end of a long slow burn of meandering effort, and it was that whole meandering effort that was needed for the change, so action, as we relate to it is best seen as slow process of erosion.  We wear down a problem until it no longer exists and in it’s stead stands that discovered solution.


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Podcast Ep. 1131: Massage

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