Saturday, April 5

Nowhere near enough media attention

Despair woke me this day. I sat in a lethargic gloom playing video games on the couch just outside my--if you can call it that--bedroom, the voice of action a tiny scream in the background. It is not an acute sense of defeat, but rather an all-encompassing one; not the lightning that strikes suddenly, but the enless rolls of thunder announcing your doom.

How do we choose what has value in this life? How to discover and use our talents, on what to spend our time, what of value to pass by on the way to other things in life?

Some people choose something relatively obscure and enjoy being leaders in their fields, leaders in innovation. After all, if no one else even thinks of doing what you are doing, chances are high that you will be the best at it.
I am not discrediting these wanderers and their fantastical creations. It takes someone unwilling to submit to the doggedly persistent pressures of societal conformity--the small tool that makes running us, the cattle, through the system as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

Others need the challenge of beating the competition. The concrete certainty that they are the best is as tangible as the blood pumping through their veins and the money thrown at their luxuries.
This is a different kind of work altogether. It takes a different kind of courage to win these medals... To know that defeat is chasing you, always around the corner, that it will quickly catch up with you the moment you falter.

Those are things we notice. The most important victories, however, are not those that are headliners in the national papers, broadcast live in twenty languages. Monumentous as those wins are, life as we know it would not exist without the daily compromises we make. Overcoming squeamishness to deal with a baby and it's messes; being pushed by a friend to go beyond the possible; seeking advice from a helping professional; making sure seatbelts are worn; voting in a political election... building the underlying assumptions of our society, good or bad, into our daily routines to keep us going.

And these are the ones that are hardest to do consistently, day after day after day. No one applauds when you actually get up out of bed to go to work today, even though you really didn't feel like it. Awards are not given out when you go just a couple minutes out of your way to make someone's life a bit easier. I suppose the only thing that we can do is not to expect to accomplish amazing things every day.

Well, they did say that Rome wasn't built in a day...

It's the build-up from thousands of repeated efforts that results in something beautiful and strong, like a flourishing company, a succesful adult child, a work of art, an ability to whittle well.

Or a stalagmite.
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