Monday, March 14, 2011

Over-Estimating Potential

Here's a safety thought that I've been chronically guilty of:

"I can do it if I really try."

Well, what's stopping you/me then?  Lots of things, like the fact that I don't want to do it, perhaps, that I didn't really desire it, or that I didn't try, in all honesty, I might say, and then withdraw to a shell and stop interacting with everything remotely related to "it" and "trying" so as not to face some easily understood and objective fact that can be deduced from the above:

"I didn't do it."

And that, my friends, is the ultimate end.  I didn't do it.  I didn't accomplish that thing that I set to accomplish BUT, and here's the barbed catch all, there's always, you know, I might say, hands shoved in pockets, eyes on the  horizon, another day.  And that might be true for a lot of things and a lot of days and a ton of effort, but if I've told myself that I'd do something, I should do it--barring fantastical claims about what it is.  There are value based "its" like, "I will be nice to my X" and there are goal based "its" like, "I will jog 5 miles saturday," both of which have a funny way of squishing out from under one's shoes like some bag of boiled eggs at times, and coming out the other side in different permutations than they started, but mostly, the very difficult reality is this: doing something or becoming some way requires a lot of fucking practice.  No, no, not "fucking" practice, just a modifier, practice to the horizon, in place of the contemplation of what was, or hard assumptions of innate skill that tend to claim prominence in the face of defeat.  I mean, shit, I cannot beat everybody on the planet in chess, although I love to play chess.  I'm serious.  In fact, email me at and we'll play some chess.  I love it over and above getting beat at it. That should be the only way to love something--i.e. that ego is subservient to the task--but it isn't, unfortunately, and a lot of people in the business/professional world, I've found, run on the intoxicating fumes of potential and assertion, and not, precisely, end-product.

That's not to say that a rant like this couldn't be construed as some kind of ego manifestation in itself, but for now that claim is outside the scope of this post.  

What I wanted to say was just this: realizing that potential is finite, that, for instance, we don't use only 10% of our brains, and that we can't just be the best in a certain genre of life if we try a lot ONCE, is okay.  It is a relief.  We can take a breathe, take a stroke of a pedal, realize that we're not in fantasy land, and just enjoy the experience for once.  That's what my sunday off gave me today.    That's also, by the way, sort of the experience of learning a language (outside of one's primary language acquisition years).

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