Sometimes you won’t be able to see beyond the next curve of the road you’re on.
But trusting that there will be a path that will take you where you want to go, or that you’ll be strong enough to build your own if needed… is what it means to have faith.
Foam, frothy foam.
Mud and salt.
A thousand miles of eroded coast.
Wanna put on
my little goggles
way up high
From Oh the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss. This is one of my favorite books, and everyone should read it. Not just kids.
One thing I am trying to figure out in life is how to have some appreciation for myself that isn’t totally dependent on external factors.
For now, my gut still tells me that there’s only four things that make me feel like I’m worth something:
- When I make good progress in my work.
- When I feel appreciated by friends and family.
- When I make progress on learning a new skill.
- When I do something creative that I feel I can be proud of.
These things, in and of themselves, are not harmful to desire, nor even harmful to be motivated by. But the biggest challenge for me is that even the deepest feelings of self-satisfaction melt away as soon as I hit a moment where none of these four things are prominently featured in the foreground of my life.
And so the thing I keep wondering is how do I feel comfortable in my own shoes most or all of the time, without any dependency on external conditions? Or at least, how can I get comfortable with experiencing those moments of discomfort that are par for the course in the ordinary flow of day to day life?
I’ve had some luck with Buddhist and Stoic practices in working through these sorts of questions before, so maybe it’s time to go looking in that direction again.
I have this idea for a story, or maybe even a game of some sort.
It involves a magical box that is sort of a time machine, but not in the ordinary sense of the word. It is small, maybe big enough to fit a dozen books or so in, and it features a 12 digit mechanical combination lock.
Once the lock is set, a parallel universe would be created where the contents of the box would then appear at exactly the date and time keyed into the box (for example: 201001011030 would mean Jan 1 2010 @ 10:30am)
In that newly generated universe, the box’s number wheels would instantly snap to zero and the lid would unlock, revealing whatever contents were “sent back from the future.” But anything that happened before that exact moment in time would be identical to the universe that sent the materials back into the past.
This simple narrative construct forms a kernel for countless different stories. But what I have in mind is the idea of some protagonist who is trying to engineer “the perfect life” even though they’d not be able to live it themselves, by repeatedly sending back notes from the future about various life choices.
I can see this taking a tragic turn, where some key “memories” are destroyed or altered, creating a peculiar game of tug-of-war between countless copies-of-copies-of-copies of past and future selves.
The box itself probably would have an origin story too, and figuring out how to construct additional boxes (or on the flip side, figuring out how to destroy the first memory box and halt the endless rollercoaster ride through parallel universes once and for all) could be possible plot lines.
If you had this kind of box, what would you do with it? What problems might you run into? How would it change your view of what it means to be alive?
A cacophony of chirping and squawking,
Mechanical keyboard clacking,
The beep-beep of a far away truck backing up.
Tree leaves bustling,
branches bouncing beneath boisterous birds.
The steady drum of a heart beat,
ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump.
Then a timer goes brrrrrrrrzzzz.
When something difficult to navigate appears unexpectedly when you had hoped for smooth sailing, it is often super painful.
But when you intentionally venture out into stormy seas, preparing in advance for whatever challenges you might come across, it is a very different feeling.
It can be especially tricky when both of these things happen at the same time, in different parts of your life.
If you try to rush full steam ahead without changing up your plans, you will surely end up crashing straight into sharp rocks. But if on the other hand, you shrink in fear and beat a forced retreat to safe harbor at the first sign of trouble, you’ll never develop the courage you need to grow in life.
I don’t have advice to offer here, it’s just an observation. But it’s also something I have been thinking about a lot lately.