“Every small positive change we make in ourselves repays us in confidence in the future.” ~ Alice Walker (born 1944); Author and activist
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882); Philosopher, Poet, Author, Essayist
I usually write to 90s theme music, but today I am in the park listening. Listening to the birds chirping, dogs barking, people talking, and probably the most annoying, insects buzzing. Despite the many sounds I hear, I feel the pull of a moment. A moment separated from infinite linear progression. For this moment I feel freed from the temporal world. This is a moment to reflect, to dream, to plan, just to… Moments like these help shape my vision in the present, think or rethink the future, and help me come to terms with the past. This is separated from infinite linear progression. This is a moment of solitude.
Blurred due to recent events, my vision is not stable. I’m doubting my ability to interpret the world. Is this tree really a tree? Is the grass greener than before? Why do the birds sing such a somber song? My vision has failed me before; somethings are just so very hard to see. Even with contingency, I was forced to scramble. Fortunately, impromptu is a skill I am equipped with. Yes, I am able to handle what the world shows me. I may not like what I see but I am prepared. I am ready to see things clearly and overcome them. I am ready to see what exists in the present and I am ready to take on the challenges of existing.
Looking at this present world makes me think. Think about a future I desire, a future I want. But the future I want, the one with this, this, and this, is not guaranteed. I guess the first step in planning the future is knowing what that future is. I guess it’s time to rethink things again. “What’s your motivation Kenny? Why are you walking this path?” Necessity? “Come on Kenny you can do better than that.” Need? “Whose need? What you need?” I need… better. “Better what?” Just better… “Well, how do you… better?” You try better, act better, play better, think better, strive better, persist better, love better. You just do better! “Haha, well, that sounds like a plan!”
What is this sound? Like a rustling, lightly in the background. And what is this sensation? It feels like a slight tug on one’s shirt. Anyway, the plan for the future does not exist apart from the past. The corridor of personal history shows me so much. I see apologies to give, goodbyes to impart, and greetings I failed to utter. The murals of missed opportunities, the canvases of wasted time, and the different colors highlighting the paths I rejected. Again, I hear this rustling. It sounds closer. And I feel the touch of something. Like a light wave washing over my body. That tug, it has gotten stronger. Now it is more like a pulling, consistent and directional. Hmmm… Let me hurry. First to the wall of errors. I am sorry, I acknowledge the things I have done wrong. Now to the place of loss. I feel so weary looking at these tombstones. Saying goodbye does not mean I miss you any less. The goodbye itself cannot truly express how things have changed. To those whom I have failed to greet, I say hello and hello again.
What is this pull? It feels like an earth magnet pulling me in! I hear the rustling loudly, that push against my skin is stronger, and birds? I know, I understand now. One cannot be separated from infinite linear progression forever! I am back in the park. The dogs are gone. The trees rustling loudly as the wind cools from the heat. The birds are singing; the chatter of people is all but gone. My moment has passed. I feel grounded, hopeful, yet a little burdened. Wow, so much has transpired and it only took a moment.
I know I have to work on my grit. Follow through is not easy for anyone, especially in this fast-paced culture. In this interesting talk, Dr. Lee Duckworth talks about the significance of “Grit” in education and life. Sticking with something longterm is not easy in our modern culture, it is so easy to find something new or shift to something easier. Long term commitment is not encouraged, but Dr. Lee Duckworth explores its role in success both in school and life.
“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
” What I do know is that talent doesn’t make you gritty. Our data show very clearly that there are many talented individuals who simply do not follow through on their commitments. In fact, in our data, grit is usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent.“
The last few weeks of my life have been chaotic to say the least. Graduation, quitting jobs, new job searches, finishing my novel: it’s been a whirling dervish. There are times when I find myself clinging to the wall, scrabbling to find some solid ground beneath my feet. It’s motion sickness on dry land, the world spinning round though I find myself standing still.
There are times in life where it’s impossible to predict the future (except for Charles Xavier and few other notable exceptions). Most of the times we realize these limitations and are fine with them. We move forward in utter darkness but we still hope for the best. Other times, the idea that we are in darkness is so utterly suffocating that we can’t take that first step, petrified that instead of solid ground it will be an abyss beneath our feet. It’s times like these that we can find ourselves stagnating, caught in the stage between rather than pursue the unreliable future that is transition.
As it is, we don’t have much of a choice. What we do have is hip-cocking, sweetly-smirking, devil-may-care attitude. If we’re going to jump of a cliff, might as well do it with a bright grin and a running start. With all the brave assuredness of a hero and the world-narrowing focus of a villain, we push away from the wall, close our eyes, and leap.
Even if we crash-land, it will be a hell of a fall.