Friday, April 25, 2014

difficulty is unfamiliarity

There is no such thing as difficult.  Only things that we are unfamiliar with.

I am going to bet with you that the above statement was inspired from that famous quote from the Stoic philosopher Seneca.  You know, the one that goes "it is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult."  Have you ever heard anything so simple yet so great at the same time?

I haven't.

All I ever wanted was to live a satisfying life.  For as long as I can remember, that seemed too difficult to achieve.  Sure, I felt good every now and then, but it was hardly anything fulfilling.  I knew something was missing.  After a long search for a solution, I realized that I needed to start exposing more.  Exposing things like my deepest feelings and my most cherished ideas, and this especially in the face of people that I knew and of those that I did not know.  In short, the very thing I had spent my whole life avoiding by maintaining the image of a person who was reserved and solitary.

Due to this avoidance, I had little experience in letting myself be exposed (and consequently in drawing the attention and judgment of others).  I had long believed that it was the most difficult thing to do, so I never went near there.  But Seneca thought otherwise and his words challenged me.  If I was serious about having a satisfying life, all I needed to do was get familiar with this kind of exposure.  I did not even have to think of daring anything, since the idea of daring is closely linked with that of having fear.  And we all know the effects that fear has on us.  You can find my favorite example here.

So how would you get familiar with a subject that you imagined useful but that you did not know?  Well, you would read about it, write about it, think about it, talk about with other people, try it, and so on.  And then repeat.  If one of these separate tasks seemed difficult, let's say that of trying, it only meant that gaining more familiarity with the task would be necessary.  You have tried one thing before, right?  Well here is another opportunity to try once more.  This time though, it's a new thing.  What makes it seem different to you from what you tried successfully in the past?  Keep asking questions and looking for answers.  You will find that the process of getting familiar becomes more interesting.  You might even become inspired, simply because you made the choice to confront something that you had imagined useful and difficult.

For my part, I decided to expose more in the public eye.  My operations are one proof of that.  The blog that you are reading is another.  The latter could focus on the touristic travels that I have made, on recipes that I have attempted to pull off, on encounters with famous people, or simply on ordinary events from everyday life.  While I do appreciate such things, my true self is not too concerned with them right now.  The things that I value more tend to be less concrete.  They include feelings that are often universal and ideas that have the potential to influence the life of an individual for the better.  My own life for the better.  I had gone searching and it was these feelings and these ideas that I found.  I believe that exposing them is the solution.  And I don't want to reject a solution discovered to a worthwhile problem just because I imagine its implementation being difficult.

So I am going to get familiar.

Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times‒although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

‒ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

1 comment:

  1. "Où serait le mérite, si les héros n'avaient jamais peur ?"
    Alphonse Daudet