A thought from hard times recently:
It’s not always about chasing a dream, but more often, we’re working to escape a nightmare.
Hard work is often portrayed as an overwhelmingly positive pursuit. Sure, it’s not easy, but we’re led to believe that we have a clear and shining North Star to direct our gaze toward. The work will be hard now, but you will receive a pay-off later.
This is false in two senses.
When you do receive the pay-off, you don’t become exempt from hard work. And the belief that you will achieve lasting happiness at any point, as a result of hard work, is a really bad reason to work hard. Do it because you love it, not because you want to earn the right to stop doing it.
You may never receive the pay-off. It’s not promised. And, if you do, it will probably be much more delayed than you could’ve anticipated. Come to expect very little, beyond the fulfillment for a job well done, from your work. Expect less of external reward - the stuff you can’t control has more ability to hurt than inspire you.
And why are you doing the work anyway? What are you pursuing? Perhaps, it’s not a pursuit, but an escape. It’s quite possible we’re running from something, not towards it.
That’s not to say that we’re wrong for our motivations, whatever they may be. Desperation is a powerful motivator, and there’s no desperation quite like the urgency of escape. If you aren’t in love with the current circumstances of your life - if you believe you’re made for more - by all means, get to work.
“I do believe that most men live lives of quiet desperation. For despair, optimism is the only practical solution. Hope is practical. Because eliminate that and it's pretty scary. Hope at least gives you the option of living.” (Harry Nilsson)
This blog will always be rooted in my own experiences. I can’t speak for anyone but myself. I may look back months or years from now, with a greater understanding of life, and refute some of the things that I’ve written. But on this day, in this pain, I would say that there is a motivator that stands above the rest.
The ability to feel like you’ve made it; that you are at a place in life where you can truly live - not just survive - and to have it taken away. To be thrust back into survival, humbled to your core, unsure if you will make it back to a better place.
You will feel buried, disadvantaged by a misfortune that you couldn’t control, and that now controls you. But with right action, resilience, and persistence, it will strengthen you for the next opportunity.
When will that opportunity present itself? We can’t be sure of that. All we can do is work hard. Appreciate the way hard work fulfills you and continue forward - through the fog - towards a reality that will magnify the present, overshadow the demons of your past, and help you worry a little less about the future.
“The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” (Oscar Wilde)
Note to Self: Feel everything fully. The pain, the confusion, the promise of better. Feel it and allow it to inspire you.