Thursday, January 12, 2023

Miracles in Minutes

A lot of peace in life comes from acceptance, things we deal with that we hate and the impatience we allow to creep in as a result of wanting to escape. I'm sure you've felt it, we all do. We've all been stuck in a situation we don't think we should be in, we need to claw our way out, we need to defeat it and leave that mess all behind us. After all, we don't want to be held back from what we truly want to do. Who would?

But the truth is that, in life, you are not going to get to do all you truly want to do; and the things you want to do might not end up giving you the satisfaction you thought you would get from it. Perhaps you are not aiming in the right direction.

The turning point comes when you realize you might be stuck in that rut, that supposed low point, for the rest of your life. Most reflection that comes from this leads two ways: utter defeatism and despair, or desperation for escape from it. Two sides of the same coin, more or less. But there is another option, and that is gratitude for being in such a position in the first place. It is at that point you can truly realize what matters, and how lucky you are to exist right now in the first place--that you even have the opportunity to wake up in the morning at all.

You see, you are not in control of your life. There are tasks you can do, people you can help, situations you can engage--and there are also things you simple cannot ever deal with or change. Perhaps you were never meant to. Perhaps that is not your role here to play. The fact that we can even do anything at all in life should fill us with a sense of gratitude, not the desire to bite off more than we can swallow and lose patience that our jaws aren't wide enough to fit it all in. There is a sense in grandness by understanding how small you actually are in relation to everything else. Gratitude.

There is always a possibility, no matter how remote, that the situation you are currently stuck in, the situation you detest so much, might be where you spend the rest of your life. It very well might not be, but imagine if it was and accept it for a moment. Would that be the worst outcome you could think of? Do you think there is any way you could even consider the possibility that you are here because it is where you need to be? Perhaps the alternative would lead you astray, down the path of self-destruction, staining your soul and leading to untimely despair, or, even worse, unimaginable material success. What would you do then?

Man is judged on what he does, but we also must take stock on what it is that we do. You are not in competition with any other man, living or dead. You might want to be known like one of your heroes, but you can only be you. We make note of pulp speed, for instance, as a tool for creation, but that is simply a way to improve motivation for your output. There are plenty of writing formulas that exist to instruct you how to put fingers to keyboard, but they are not formulas for success: they are formulas meant to give you directions to your goal.

But what is your goal? Is it clear? Does it take into account just why we are here in the first place? If not, perhaps it should.

This is going to sound simple and cheesy, but the truth usually is. Maybe that's why we've trained ourselves to dismiss such attitudes. You are here to be you, because there is no one else that can be you. You're here for a reason but, despite what you might think, won't ever know every reason you are here or what you are meant to do. Every interaction you have with others in this life, no matter how minor, rolls out into everyone else, in ways you won't even understand. You simply cannot know. It's one of the mysteries of existence that everything we do matters, even things that seemingly have no value, like leaving a tip at a cash register. In this sort of case, how can we not find ourselves blessed to simply wake another day and live?

Artists of all stripes tend to get discouraged these days, thinking that unless they reach the top of the sales charts (in whatever medium they work in) whatever they create has no value. It is all about monetary success, otherwise it is a waste.

But that is not true. No one can ever know the precise value of what they create in anything. It's simply not possible.

For all you know, that song you wrote and dumped on Bandcamp might be found by one random person on a particularly bad day, and it will give them the motivation to do something they might not have had the motivation to do beforehand. The painting you can't seem to sell might have brightened someone's day and given them the inspiration to create something of their own. The screenplay you wrote might not get made now, but maybe a third party might stumble upon it and be inspired to act in some other facet of their life. They might never even tell you that. The game you made might never leave the testing stage, but one of the testers might have gotten a story out of it to tell people for years. There are an infinite number of possibilities.

Who is to say? There are many different ways things can go, and no way to know what will happen. This truly means that we will never really understand the world we so want control over. Your suffering might bring you fruits in ways you will never see coming. There is just no way to know. Every day, the world is new.

Sometimes all you can do is pray. Sometimes that is enough. There is a solemn sense of gratitude to understand that you aren't really in control. The fact that you are here in the first place means you still have a role to perform that you haven't completed yet.

Eventually, you'll find it.

We can apply this attitude to everything in life.

You might be upset you will never put out 300 books in your lifetime, but what if there is a reason you can't? What if you were meant to put out 3, or 13, or 30, instead? Is that so bad? Maybe you were meant to have a handful of people read it, get inspired, and have it affect their mood or their lives for even just a moment. Would that not have made it all worth it, in the end?

You are not your neighbor. You are not your relative. You are not your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, or sisters. You are you--someone who has a unique role to play in this life, unlike anyone else does. While we can surmise general advise and tips to help out the majority in similar situations, there are always exceptions to every rule. We are not very good at seeing those exceptions, mostly because we want a clear direction forward. We can have blindness to the point where we will ignore who we are meant to be in order to dig a way out of any pit we might have fallen in. The term "work smarter, not harder" applies even more to discernment. If you find yourself sliding and unable to reorient yourself, this is probably the issue. Take a step back, and assess the situation you are in.

While the entire discourse around the word "snowflake" became a massive warzone and minefield over the years, one needs to remember the ultimate truth at the bottom of where the saying originally came from. At the end of the day, you are not "just like everyone else" and neither are you a special superman above reproach. You are you--a human being with a unique path through life that no one else will have. No, even if you think the broad strokes are the same, the events you live through, the challenges you face, the things you will see, will never be 100% the same. That is all the more reason why we should never lose connection with others: we will never have their perspective, and they will never have ours. That difference in experience is more valuable than we sometimes realize.

This isn't a sort of "you could always have it worse" message, because you could also always have it better. The point is that you can only live this life you have, its ups and its downs, and like Job you won't understand why there are things you want that you can't have. But at the end of the day, it all contributes to making you into who you were always meant to be. That is something no one else can be. Only you can be who you are at the place and time you are at right now. It might not be glamorous, it might not be ideal, it might be embarrassing, it might not even be acceptable by modern standards, but it is you.

Once one gets to the point where they can express gratitude even the negatives of their life as they continuously wake up into a situation they do not like, they might find a new appreciation for even that negative. At that point, what is to even complain about? All that is left is gratitude at another chance to live.

So as it is with art. "Success" might not exactly come in the way you think it will. As long as you have that sense of gratitude in simply creating, then what more do you need?

Now, of course, this isn't exactly something that is easy to say, never mind accept. We all have to process our own way through life, come what may. However, attitude and expectations are definitely things that can be managed. A shift in thought process can wrangle much joy out of a situation where there is little to be found on the surface. Sort of ironic.

As an example, when I was a child, something of the scale of the Internet Archive would have been thought impossible. You can find old books, movies, articles, documentaries, articles, TV shows, websites, and everything you can imagine, at your finger tips. It's all free, too. This easily blows away modern streaming services, never mind the old rabbit ears antenna of four channels and a bunch of static. But are we happier than we were then? Are we enjoying these new inventions and appreciating just how much we have available now that we didn't before? Shouldn't we? This is something our ancestors would have dreamed of. Shouldn't we see this for what it is, and be humbled that we live in a time where this is possible?

I think we're starting to, and that is most definitely a giant leap forward to where we were not long before. Gratitude is the starting point to true change.

You might see the news, or follow media accounts on social media, and allow that to color your view of the world. But if you look outside of that, you will find scores of people striving to travel the right road, putting others first, and doing all they can to be the best person they can be. The 21st century is just getting started, and I don't think it's quite going to go where we think it will. As long as we remember the joy of gratitude and second chances, we will always go far.

The year has just started, remember. Who knows what awaits ahead of us? Let us just feel grateful that we will experience it at all.


  1. Thanks for this very refreshing viewpoint. It was just what I needed to read today. See? Exactly what you were talking about! You never know when that one blog post will encourage someone.