Just the beginning

"No mystic and no student of Zen is at first step the man he can become through self-perfection. How much has still to be conquered and left behind before he finally lights upon the truth! How often is he tormented on the way by the desolate feeling that he is attempting the impossible!"
Suzuki, Zen and the art of archery

I've been having conversations with people lately about following a path. One of the things that is apparent is that in this world there are not many people who are fully prepared to do the hard yards to get where they say where they want to be (I do sometimes wonder if I'm one of those). Too many of us have a sense of entitlement, a feeling that somehow the universe owes them something. Even those that set out on the path find themselves surrounded by people that tell them it's not fair because it doesn't land in our laps. Don't try to drag yourself up, berate the universe with us.

Or we are surrounded by "friends" who tell us that it is impossible either because they don't believe in us enough to accept that it is possible (and don't want to see us hurt in the failure) OR because on some level they are threatened by our attempt to climb out. Perhaps it highlights that they could have done had they tried or perhaps just out of a sense of small-mindedness - tall poppy syndrome - it doesn't do to be too clever or to stand out.

All of this is bollocks of course. If you want it enough, genuinely, candidly, it will come - but there is always a bill and you will have to pay your dues. Trouble is, we're social animals and when our friends and family - who often won't share our passions and desires, who might support if they only understood - when these people are planting the tiniest seeds of doubt in our mind we can become trapped in the absolutist cage - it's perfect or it's nothing.

Yes, this is the logic which can see a momentary, barely significant nutritional slip turn into a 3-month despairing bender of sugar and cakes and pies and booze and self-loathing.

We still need to settle our tab, that can't be ducked. But the payment will have context if you are hooking up with the right people, with good coaches.

"Whoever makes good progress in the beginning has all the more difficulties later on" - Suzuki

So it is not just the product of modern society with a benefits culture! I've seen this in many strands of my life. In my day job this is critical. The professionals did not necessarily find it easy but their progress through education and training does not prepare them for that almost inevitable moment when it doesn't go to plan. It will happen, the key is knowing how to adapt to overcome and how to learn from it. Trouble is, they aren't prepared for it. Athletes are the same. Without the right training they are unable to adapt on the field or mat and are incapable of accepting coaching when they need it...when they need it most!

This isn't another article trying to convince you not to worry about competing, to settle for second best and a certificate of attendance. If those are your rewards, take them. Don't be so personally invested in what you are doing that you are blinded to the opportunities to develop, to grow, to improve and to come back victorious. Make them your observations, even, especially about the people and information sources in your quest.

Whatever you think about this, at least think before your next move. "Why did you start doing this? What did you want from it? Now, what are you getting? If you've read any of my other stuff, you'll know where I'm going with this.

Think. Do. Talk

Too many people get that entirely in the wrong order or get the weight of each all wrong!

Onwards and upwards.


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