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May 13th, 2019
Time past functions like weight on a train. Two trains can be going the exact same speed but contain within that speed drastically different forces. For example, if one train only has one cart and the other train has five hundred carts, the one with more weight will take far longer to slow down even though both trains are going the same speed. This is inertia.
Our personalities, via the experiences we’ve had, the behaviors and emotions they’ve evoked and the thoughts that have perpetuated through time function like weight with regards to who we are. The more we have behind us, the more likely that past is going to be the determining factor in where we are headed next, even if we are trying to look in new directions.
This is referred to in a smaller way as force of habit.
But nearly anything that we experience or do with repetition can qualify as a habit. We may in fact simply be a bundle of good and bad habits, the sum total of which may seem to spit out occasional new directions as the differing forces of all habits give way to each other by slowing down or speeding up.
Self-control and will power and self-discipline. All of these are tossed about in culture as though they were as concrete, definitive and reliable as the sunrise. These concepts mostly function as hazy conceptual pools that gurus and coaches use to divide people between those who think they have it and those who do not. This creates a gradient differential, that can create income by making people think they are passing from one side to the other. Most of this is well intentioned and many of the tactics may indeed work which is good for all involved.
However, it is a mistake to think that we can will ourselves to magically wake up tomorrow as the person we would like to be.
There is generally too much inertia from the past pushing us from behind.
This is the opposite of what we say about kids, who we describe as impressionable.
Kids are like that train with only one cart in tow. Easy to slow down, easy to change directions.
Getting older is like adding carts, and going in a new directions requires taking all that inertia into consideration.
It’s for this reason that we also prescribe one another to forget the past, or don’t let it control your future. The inertia battling such advice is gaining strength everyday.
It is possible to cut some of that inertia, but this requires a special pause and a mindful step away from the emotional resonance of memory.
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