Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To build a fire

Some things in life we can't help. Circumstances are already in motion, and we are caught up, whether we like it or not. In these places we yield, because there is no other choice.

Other things in life we can influence, some things more than others. Wherever we exert the greatest influence, in the smallest things, we always face a choice. Depending on what we choose, small areas of great influence will contribute toward one or another medium realm of moderate influence; and so on and so forth.

In some places we yield, in other places we advance, rather in spite of ourselves! And yet we always face a choice about what we are advancing toward.


Quin said...

I feel like this is the fundamental message of your blog. Choose to exert influence when the choice exists. Heading in the right direction for your goals is all you can do.

A good example is learning a new language, like Japanese, which is what I've been studying. All of us know that, of course, in theory, it's possible to speak another language. But to those of us who never have before, and set about doing it, the road can seem impossibly long. Speaking from painful experience, I can say definitively that no matter how hard you study in a day, that city you see up on the mountain still seems just as many hundred miles away at the end of the day. Yet, if you continue to take small steps in the right direction without worrying exactly how much further there is to go-- each day, learning a little bit more than you knew the day before-- one day, as if by magic, you didn't notice when it happened exactly, but you are having conversations with native Japanese people about feminism.

But only the people who can enjoy the smaller process of continually advancing in the right direction make major progress. I have seen a lot of westerners stymied for years with very little progress because they just want to speak Japanese NOW. What they're not doing, is enjoying the process of advancing in the right direction, even in the simplest of ways.

Some places we wish to advance toward may be magnitudes farther than speaking fluent Japanese. Some fires that we want to see burning may be impossible in our own lifetime, even if we ourselves, did everything we physically possibly could to make it happen. That's okay, if we enjoy the journey itself. Maybe we shouldn't worry so much about being "goal-oriented", and instead become "orientation-oriented".

Anonymous said...

My favorite London story.

JRB said...

Quin: Beautiful and true. Thanks.

Anonymous: That's right! Though I haven't read it since, it made a big impression on me in adolescence.