Growth is in some part a destructive process. It must be tempered with cool disposition.

Exciting New Beginnings

Ruben Dominguez
Ruben Dominguez

Table of Contents

The irony is not lost on me while I write this. To me, this is further proof of the ill-intended machinations at play, which I am on a perpetual mission to dispel.

I'm not really going to concretely introduce what exactly is going on here on this slice of the internet. Not because I'm being mysterious or for rhetorical effect. Also, not because there is a lack of clear vision, though there is much of that to be desired of course.

One of those common sayings thrown around in writing circles is that you have to "write what you know". Why is this? Well, I don't know, so I guess I won't pursue the matter further than a quick analogy. It's a lot easier to juggle four balls if you already know how to juggle three.

In life we constantly have to juggle various things. It takes deliberate effort to really take time for those special things we want to be devoted to. But say that we could focus on anything. How? More urgently, what?

Not So Sweet Serendipity

Oh, the joy of getting caught up in something. The all too-rewarding feeling of doing something where you feel like you're wasting your time. Suddenly, you find something useful actually. Now, with everything re-contextualized, you were in the right place all along.

It's like therapy, but better, because it's like if you got therapy without going to therapy. Like needing therapy from something traumatizing, then not needing it because it gives you some advantage in some contexts. Anyway.

Serendipity is all around. Not only in times of distraction, but also when we're focused, maybe on related tasks. Say, for example, you're taking a math test. You come across a question you aren't familiar with, so you skip it to not waste time. A later question gives you insight that you had forgotten or didn't know about. Now, you can go back and take an honest crack at that past question.

Granted, in a literal sense, this isn't so serendipitous. The reason is that it is not unexpected to get such insight from the math test. Serendipity, however, is a feeling, and I'd argue that if one feels that nice goodwill from such an exchange, in such a test, then it is indeed serendipity.

It would be quite a magical world if one were to experience serendipity like this all the time. I'd say it's one of those things we lose as we age. Under every stone, a lesson or little nugget of value for our intrigue.

Perhaps though, the world is like this by default. Without a doubt, our perception works to suppress and manage our expectations, and reactions to stimuli. When we look at the world in this way, it's easy to see how we can get caught up in the weeds as they say.

Despite this, in modernity we work really hard to make things predictable and stable. A futile task if you ask me. For one because the the world is still interesting if you think about it. My chair is from Sweden, my shirt is from Ecuador, and my pen is from China. All amazingly dynamic things we take for granted, and society doesn't want you thinking about.

Society wants you to contribute to society, and any deviation from that, puts you lower in societies favor.

The guilt society tries to impart into us for challenging factors outside our control aside, serendipity on its own can be really problematic.

A Struggle To Get To The Point

So much about life is about figuring out what's important. That's not the end of it, because once you know that, you need to know what to do, what to act on, and what to build. What's important, and what to build. How to invest your time. 

If you can do even half of this you are blessed, and if you can do all of it, the people around you are blessed.

It is difficult to extract exactly what about these types of people imparts them the ability to advance in such a way. Often, it is something about the way the person evolves as they develop in life. Prodigies, are real, but they usually lack a key ingredient that high-level practitioners have.

This next sharp detour doesn't devolve into a story about only me. Point is, if I'm kind of a big deal, then so are you, probably.

I am someone who has always seen themselves as someone who gets in their own way. In my youth, because I am so wise, I decided that I was the type of person who would give up. I decided that if I wanted to, I could decide to "be better". I intellectualized in all the wrong ways. Ways that meant my primary way of coping was telling myself I would one day try again, and that time I would get it right, and become who I wanted to be.

I was in a war of attrition where the only enemy was myself. Over the years, this would turn into self-loathing. 

It's normal for people to be struck by a crisis at least once in life, and when it happened it was not a mild experience. This was just another brick in the road that lead to my despair.

I'm not sure what the real delay was for my ideal self to emerge. It could have been a refusal to acknowledge that my approach to my problems was flawed from the start. Maybe accepting that would have been even more damaging. Honestly, I couldn't entirely tell you what's so different now.

One day after work, I was making my long commute, and I looked at my life, and I think what came over me as a feeling of euphoria was pride. Even if I was someone who had been knocked down by life and kicked while I was down, I was almost always there for myself. The self-loathing dissipated from there. I became someone who I saw as someone who deserved respect, not necessarily because of what they achieved, but because they were able to hold onto what they had.

A Cool Place After Going Through Fire and Flames

After this tipping point in my life, I would incrementally move towards being the person I wanted to be. I still had plenty of times where I would be burnt-out, and resentful that I wasn't where I wanted to be in life. Still, I was making progress.

After another life-shaking crisis came my way, I had another sort of epiphany that was more related to why I was doing the things I was doing. The idea of work in general for the sake of work became toxic to me—something that I would want in my life as a source of activity and growth. Not something that is there to supplicate my ego or give me a life of luxury.

These were things that I wasn't really interested in to begin with. In my head, the point of working was to pay back the people in my life who I loved. At this point, however, I decided that nothing would come at the expense of my own happiness and sense of fulfillment.

Things really changed at this point, I had already shed so much mental baggage I carried with me, and made many sacrifices to reach goals I set for myself. Now, it's like I threw away all my plans of the past and would decide to be a person who was just be fulfilled and satisfied with myself. Whatever that meant.

I would eventually circle around back to a lot of my old goals. I re-contextualized things. I realized that with all my repeated attempts to keep on trying I was adding value, I just had to put myself in a position to apply it. So then the past was re-framed, and in the present, a whole new approach to the activity would take place.

The stakes were different. It was not about proving something to myself about my competence or if I could make money off what I was doing. I am trying to create something bigger than myself that I want to be a part of. The pressure of that is so much lighter to hold than putting your own self-worth on the line.'

All this and the realization that I had spent years getting ready, and I know what to do. There isn't much that's magical about what I'm doing now. I'm not a whole new person. I'm not diving into something new unless I want to. It's like riding a bike.

The best parts are when that serendipity hits.

The Price of Freedom

Every moment not spent doing that is time either necessary or unnecessary, and I am always finding less reasons to unnecessarily waste my time.

I have a system that works, and I'm happy with after many years of feeling like a disorganized mess. I have clarity in my goals, how I spend my time, and what what I am doing will accomplish.

The question is, that once you reach clarity in mission and the confidence of your success, what do you do? When you get this oh so valued thing called "discipline" what do you do?