What’s holding you back?
How’s it going lately? Frustrated? Working harder than ever and getting no closer to your goals? Does it feel as if you’re caught in a cosmic tractor beam?
Well, maybe you are.
That cosmic tractor beam is the invisible force called inertia, and I have discovered who is to blame for it. And it’s not you.
It’s the Universe, that’s who.
It’s the whole wide Universe that’s holding you back, using its tractor beam of inertia. Moreover, that is what the Universe is supposed to do.
Because the Universe, if you must know, is busy fighting chaos on a cosmic scale we cannot even fathom. And it really needs you to stay in your assigned seat while it does that.
But the Universe also knows that we humans like to believe we are effective agents, with free will and all. So even though we are truly caught up in the tractor beam of an inertial field, inside the field will appear to be a riotous environment of choices! and activities! and potential progress!
But let us look again.
The Universe giveth, the Universe taketh away…
Every day, you have dozens of opportunities to hustle, focus, boost your creativity, power through your day, and pull ahead of the pack— $19.99 a month; sign here.
On the same day, you are supposed to rest up, calm down, and let go of thoughts, ego, everything but emptiness — $19.99 a month; sign here.
See? Balance maintained.
Or you pick up a magazine, which has seven recipes for mouthwatering desserts — tortes, puddings, cookies, pies.
The very same issue also has a fool-proof seven-day diet plan and a not-so-mouthwatering cleanse. Which you really need now. Plus some exercises you can do while in line at the grocery store.
Life as a zero-sum proposition
Everyone gets 24 hours a day to live their life in . When you start out, people say success will come if you spend many of those 24 hours in hard work. True — but actually spending those hours will, of course, leave you fewer hours to spend on the activities of your daily life. You will then have to earn enough money to pay others to do those things for you.
When you succeed, you may become an executive, so you will no longer get to do the thing you loved to do. Instead, you will direct others to do it. So you will no longer be doing what you loved or doing your actual life. Instead, you’ll be watching other people do your work and live your life.
But you will still be spending the original 24 hours a day you got issued, same as everyone else. The Universe doesn’t care.
Balance is maintained.
Pick out what you want — and then pay for it
A smart woman once told me, “You can have anything you want. You just can’t have everything you want.” Not true for everyone and not in every case, of course. But most of the time, we pay for our choices, one way or another.
We get a hefty student loan package for a liberal arts degree, but it costs us years of servitude. (I paid off my last student loan when I retired.)
We get a better job, but it costs us a longer commute time, so we don’t really get ahead. We will maybe break even.
We get a better lover or partner, but it costs us our youth and our optimism and, to a certain extent, our pride. This maxim applies even if the better lover is only the original lover after massive, regular overhauls of your relationship.
And we all have examples of life lessons we only learned at the cost of personal pain or humiliation or other hardship. It sure would have been nice to learn them for free, and get ahead a little, wouldn’t it? But… no. The Universe doesn’t work that way. Nobody gets anything for free.
“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
That was the Red Queen talking to Alice about Wonderland, and indeed, we often feel we are living in Wonderland. But the Red Queen then tells Alice to run twice as fast if she hopes to get anywhere, and I think that’s bad advice, even if you need the cardio.
Because, really — think of it on a cosmic scale. Even if you do run twice as fast, how far across the Universe do you really think you’re going to get, in your four-score-and-ten?
What’s the point then, Sparky?
Me? I’m going to save my $19.99 a month on frantic schemes for how-to-get-somewhere-I’m-not. I’m not going to worry about getting somewhere else, because I probably won’t.
Instead, I’m going to be here now. Pardon the moronic aphorism, but that’s really my only choice, isn’t it?
Oh, I’m still going to do what I do — write, preach, various other side hustles. I’m just not going to try to do those things.
I’m going full Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
- First, I’ll quit comparing my progress with that of my peers whose accomplishments I admire and secretly envy, against all my repentant efforts. I am much happier when I celebrate all of our noblest efforts — considering we are all equally insignificant inhabitants of the Milky Way as it spirals through the Universe.
- I’m going to seriously have more fun. (Yes, I know that sounds strange. But seriously is how I do everything.) I was taught to work first, play later. That’s fine if you punch out at 5 o’clock like a regular person. It’s not fine if you’re working 24/7. So: more fun! I’m, well, working on that.
- I’m going to help other people more, if I can. It’s been proven with science that that the most reliable way to increase happiness is to think more of others and less of oneself. I’ll try not to be stupid about it.
I implore you — don’t be mad at the Universe for the inertia thing. It’s sort of a natural law, and there’s not much point in railing against it. We can still work hard and strive for good things and try to improve the place where we are.
At least, that’s my theory. I could be wrong. And I’m certainly open to an entirely new revelation, should the Universe choose to show me something different somewhere down the road.
Meanwhile, you’ll hear me happily saying to myself, when no one’s around,
I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m making good time!