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The Tinkered Mind
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October 10th, 2020
Some times every stepping stone is an obstacle. Each one reveals the next and the opportunity is ripe for frustration, even anger, and of course, just giving up. Everyone knows what it’s like to finally get to the end of that string of problems and finally declare victory.
But where is real victory? Simply being ‘done’ after a big painful slog may be our first experience of victory, but in the long run this isn’t sustainable from an emotional standpoint. If every task and goal we undertake is pure misery and frustration for 99% of the going, is that last moment of achievement really worth it? And if not, does that make it less likely we’ll take on grander schemes in the future?
A sustainable fulfillment isn’t in that single final moment when it’s over and the champagne gets popped. The best living requires building the skills that allow an individual to come up against obstacles and surmount them with an emotional smoothness. Frustration is an abrupt, extreme and exhausting experience. If the emotional gunshot of frustration can be sidestepped, not only do we make headway on the next obstacle without the huff & puff delay of frustration, but we do so more efficiently, with an even tempered perspective.
The real victory is when our process takes on the character of a sustained and even effort, like the inertia of a slowly moving freight train - a force that is in no rush but which cannot be stopped. Juxtapose this with the usual experience of frustration slamming our progress to a stop, the time spent standing still to regain composure, the confusion that ensues and then that tiresome prospect of restarting our effort.
While stopping to take a break is surely necessary, at the very least for sleep, it’s important to break things off at a high note, not when faced with a fresh obstacle. The two often coincide: breakthroughs are met with the next problem, and it’s for this reason it’s good to plan out possible stopping points of success instead of conceding to obstacles.
The way through is best carved with a consistent force.