The dangers of inertia.

July 5, 2010

One of my worst enemies in my effort to re-make myself is the inertia of life: it’s the collection of habits and repetitive behaviors that occupy most of our daily activities. It takes a serious shake-up in your life to get you to start fighting against the usual, to make an effort to try to improve yourself; for me, it was cancer, and the naked terror of dying like I am. 11 minutes hit on the difficulties of staying on your new course in his Sex and Philosophy post:

There is enormous freedom in that state of mind. Your entire ambition becomes to live just for another moment. Nothing else counts. The people around you become strangers, possessed by an evil invisible force that drives them to not enjoy every single moment as you are. If you care enough about them, you want to shake them, tell them to stop worrying about their petty little worries and go and live! But you know that you now talk a language they will never understand.

But the state of mind of a survivor state of mind is short lived.

Soon after I had been told that my ulcer was benign, I slipped back into my old life. As soon as your time horizon fades back into a foggy future, you start worrying the human worries again. You need money. You do not want anyone to steal your stuff. You do not want to risk serious injury or disease. You do not want to fall behind your peers. The evil invisible force gets you under its control again.

I have been experiencing the exact same phenomenon that 11 minutes describes above. And, like he, I am acutely aware of how wrong it is to fall back into the old rhythms–“Once you took a sip from the spring of wisdom, it is hard to forget its taste.“; indeed, sometimes I am so aware of how much I am not getting done that I start having anxiety attacks–I worry that I might die before I’m done, or (worse still) that I might fail to transform, and live out the remainder of my life grieving for what might have been.

The answer is as 11 minutes describes it:

Life is not a parade of great experiences, one after another. It is trite, mundane, often boring, exhausting and insignificant. But then there are the brief flickers of exception The amazing moments. And it is those that we live for. And the art of life is not to miss out on them. Once you miss the moment, it is gone forever.

Don’t try to seize the whole day. Seize the best parts of it. Use the rest of the time to recharge for the next great event that makes your life.

I have to learn to seize the best parts of the day–to recognize those opportunities and to take them. If I succeed, I succeed; if not…well, I made the effort, didn’t I?