To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such an autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself.
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (as ever, our standards should be both different and more demanding than those of others)
I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.
Without pain one remains clueless about life. If one seeks to avoid pain when important learning experiences occur, nothing is learned; and the same problems and patterns inevitably repeat themselves over and over. Without the pain how else is one to integrate the “unknown” into their known, and live expanded, integrated in a fuller life?
Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play… I tell you, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.
— Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Michael Jackson re-invented the pop star, but not without falling asleep on the boards almost every night when recording. Eddy Merckx is likely the greatest man to ride a bike, and he did so 20,000 miles a year. Teddy Roosevelt is possibly our most bad ass president, yet he said life’s highest honor was to “work hard at work worth doing”.
No matter vocation or time period, they all made it look easy. It never looked like work. So the question stands, are you putting enough effort into your life and work to make it look easy?
via james nord.