Working hard, feeling the burn, and awaiting every set as it comes, we can sometimes get ahead of ourselves. Your mind can sometimes be stronger than your body, but true strength is when the two are in phase. We may want to lift more, work harder, but our bodies have their limits, and our imagination knows no bounds. So here is my advice: it may sometimes be beneficial to slow down, take a breath, be patient. Lower the weight, extend the rest time, and focus on your form, because true good things come to those who are patient and those who enjoy the process more than they do the results.
When you are facing a specific goal, make sure to chase only one rabbit. When you face a larger goal, make sure to run after the whole flock!
Encompassed by glamour and flashy sights, constantly tangled between the opportunities and decisions that face us in every passing day, we make it exceedingly easy for ourselves to be failed collectors of the things we want. Time seems to be ever expanding as we see what the world has offered to others, while we remain heedless of own candle-string growing shorter with every passing second – perhaps to glow brighter in the future, but ever shorter nonetheless. Our lifetimes are an unavoidable bottleneck of passions, plans, and dreams, where it becomes a constant struggle for us to balance between the optimistic promises of future success and happily ever after, and attempts to ground ourselves in the less extraordinary realities evident around us.
Chasing a dream may sometimes seem like chasing a rabbit: the faster we chase, the more determination it develops toward escape, and the easier it is to slip away. At the shock of our disillusionment of straightforward success, we vacillate tirelessly between the route of continually chasing more, and that of fearing that what we already have will someday abandon us. These are the two rabbits mentioned in the Russian proverb: “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” If chasing one dream is hard enough, imagine the struggle of chasing two.
When asked about that which is most important to him, Captain Silva of the Sea gave a childlike smile and responded, “It is the moment of now, and something else which I do not yet know of.” This response is interesting, as how can he chase that which is already in his grasp? He is excited not about what he knows, but about venturing yet where he has never before and attaining what he has never had. Chasing two rabbits, therefore, is like sailing against the wind. We must first jump from the ledge in which we find our safety in order to explore and illuminate the dark waters that contain the treasure that we so desire. And perhaps its the treasure within that we are truly in search for…
Chasing two rabbits leaves us stuck, trapped in our own indecision, reducing our effort to a mere illusions of progress. Sprinting in one direction, we quickly lose sight of our target. In a split-second judgement, we resolve to chase a second, closer specimen, only to realise that it is faster and more agile than the first leaving our solid resolve dissolved in a sea of frustration. If only we stuck with our initial chase – now both rabbits are out of reach.
That is, however, only if the rabbit itself is the goal. Suppose for a second that we forget about the bunnies and do what we have continually been told not to: continually changing course running after the closer rabbit. This time, however, we have let go of the desire to actually catch one – we are in it, as it were, for the chase. With this, we are never left disappointed or dissatisfied, for in every lost chase lies another to replace it. Before long, though we have not caught a single rabbit, we have found nevertheless a prize that lies beyond, what the rabbits unwittingly lead us to: the colony (technical name for group of rabbits).
We only feel we are working when we are worried. We are constantly on the lookout for the option that offers the most return for the least effort. Many a time, however, most of our growth happens behind the lines, when we are not looking. True progress, therefore, is never judged by how much we think about or long for the results, but instead by how little we want them compared to how much we enjoy the chase. Our focus often lies in the rabbit that is far away. Switching our focus to the rabbit that seems closer, it turns out to be further than we imagined, and leads us down a rabbit hole. If we stay still enough, however, then perhaps a rabbit will take interest in us, and come and have a sniff at our feet.
We often hear the criticisms of other telling us that we do not do enough of what we are supposed to. Seldom, however, do the words, “you have to do less” fall upon our ears.
In a society of more is merrier, and bigger is better, we strive to accumulate all that we can as quick as we can. This means more studying for students, more exercising to reach our fitness goals, and more work to earn even more money! Thus arises the term workaholic and the likes, which our disdain for is nothing more than a pseudo-attempt to put our selves at ease at the sight of those who are bigger and better than ourselves. Deep down inside, however, find our inner voice questioning itself, asking itself, “how do they do it?”
I, for one, have lived and breathed the negative sides of too much. For months on end, I worked and worked. Praised by my family, friends, and acquaintances on my progress, those were but empty words falling on deaf ears. I wanted more. And so to get more, one must do more… I thought… But how wrong I was.
Attached to the good blessings that I accumulated from simply not trying, I could not accept that what was in my hands was steadily and surely slipping away like sand from a shell. I worked day and night grabbing onto every passing grain; and the more I got ahold of one, the more slipped away beyond my vision. I was too blind to see that the road I was to take, was of another colour, better yet, of another world.
Less was the route I should have took when I embarked on my journey. Walk slower, take it easier, worry less! Less is the mentality of a runner, realising that he cannot sprint a marathon. Less is the words of a writer trying to cut down his linguistic perfection into the word limit. Less is in the mind of a artist trying to sculpt his masterpiece to a fault of none. As perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
But what if I want to get faster? What if I wanted to reach the end in half the time? Is more not then the solution? I never said work less, my dear friend. I simply suggested to worry less. As a sprinter who trains to reach the finish line quicker, so must you first train your ability to accept results as they come in order to further yourself as much as you can. Focus not on attaining more, as there is simply too much to attain, but rather giving more, as that is in plentiful abundance, and oh so sweet are the fruit of such labour. Give, and you must not worry about keeping. Give, and you will be showered with pleasures, gifts, and happiness. Is that not truly why we work?
We were once inhabitants of The Garden of Eden. As children, we grow up in a world of wonder, where joy, play, colours, and spectacles excite us at every turn. We grow, and with us grow our appetite and aptitude for desire and greatness. We search for the mechanisms behind a moving car, an airplane wing, a door lock and handle. We feel that our sadness takes away from us our eternal joy, and imprisons us in our own minds. We crave a constant feeling of security.
Our craving, knows the devil of our minds, can only be satisfied by the apple of knowledge. The forbidden tree looms to greatness at the far side of the garden. Closer and closer we take towards it, strolling, wandering at first, but soon we notice that we are running, galloping towards the very thing that was forbidden our nearness. Our palates watering, we stand tall and strong, alone, under the eyes of none, but One. Of course we forget that He is watching, so we pluck the bight coloured fruit that to our eyes dwarfs the whole garden and its trees. And stare at its vibrant flush, feel its smoothness and strength in our grasp, smell its freshness, almost taunting us to take a bite. And so we do…
The forbidden fruit is knowledge, is desire, is the very incarnation of evil. Not all knowledge or desire. No no. But only that crafted by the hands of the horned one, the promisor, the creator of mirages, the caller to pleasures. He takes hints at what the deepest parts of our hearts crave, and tugs lightly, patiently at the rope of our hearts in hopes of us responding with an inch. That is all he needs, an inch, and he is in.
He promises us fame and fortunes, the pleasures of the here and now. And we took the bait. No longer can we sing and dance, free of timidity and self awareness. No longer can we sail the waves of time, unafraid of being scathed. Need only we a bite of the fruit of knowledge, and the shadows of the world become evermore defined.
Now, you ask me, what is there that we can do? How must we act to save ourselves from the torment of everlasting days of illusion and false promises? These questions are futile. The correct question, dear reader, is: did this so-called promisor plant the Tree of Eden?
I had never experienced a year like the last when I finally realised that my life was perpetually plummeting down a boundless hole. You never know the end of a nosedive until it hits you. Shifting my mental composure and life philosophies, life hit me hard and without warning. I read different books, darker books, spent the majority of my time chasing vain goals in the name of self-improvement. And, much like walking in the dark, I felt confused and questioned myself frequently. I found comfort in, consoled myself with, the thought that any pain that I am feeling will add to my strength and life experience. It did in a way. But oh how wrong I was…
The journey was one of self-actualisation – or so I thought. I became obsessed with the notion of self-improvement, and focused intensely on my social skills, skills I was desperately lacking leaving school. I fantasised on ungrounded expectations of returning to my family a different person, a man, so to speak. I talked more, met more people, laughed more. But the more I turned outwards for my validation, the more I felt empty. I couldn’t figure it out. I wanted to be strong. So I did the only thing I knew how to: I continued…
I learnt how to speak in different accents, learnt different languages, practiced being strong, being weak, being funny, being angry, all within limits of course. I lost faith in who I was as a person, and more importantly, who I was becoming. I doubted and questioned my motives. Why? Who do I want to be? Why do I want to be him? What does it all matter in the end? I continued…
I met all sorts of people, people I would have never dared talk to or approach. I allowed people to trample over me; I got a kick out of it. All I needed, truly, was some sort of recognition. What did I want to achieve? Fame? Celebrity? I don’t know. But the better I got, and indeed I got good, the farther the goal seemed to me, and the deeper I dug into the confines of my own psyche. I abused my mind and my soul, and without realising it, became obsessed with my new addiction.
My depression lead me further down. Wanting to rely on myself and my mind, I kept far away from external guidance such as religion, and as a result, I lost touch with my own internal moral compass. I became an empty vessel, adorned and furnished with the most extravagant colours and designs, but an empty vase nonetheless, until…
One night, I voiced my internal screams to the closest person there was to me. I scared that person away, and was proud of myself for it, for I noticed everyone who was ever close to me slowly drifting away. Was I happy? The answer was simple but disappointing. That is, until I embraced the Book, the Quran that freed me of my thought and reminded me of the man I once was, ignorant and indifferent to the glamour and splendour of external value. I remembered, I always looked deeper. And so like that, my life was transformed. I saw happiness and light in things that would elude me time and again. I connected with people, and was very clear with my intentions and actions. I formed attachments again with those that I feared so to lose. I reunited with my purpose.
Starting exercise happened around the same time, which allowed me to channel out much of the excess negative energy that was now a part of me. I vowed to keep it up every day, and ignore the effects (good or bad) or consequences. I started to lose weight, though I did not care at the time. But back in London where little value is given to me at all on a deeper level, that became all that I valued. My image in the mirror gave me my self-confidence, and took it away just as easily. I was afraid to break my vow, even though it was eating away at me. I lost my appetite for food, and found consolation only in my reading of wisdom and religious texts. Soon, I lost even the ability to think. My energy had depleted, and I was again a dead rock at the bottom of the sea. Though I kept my vow.
Only when I returned with my family did I feel whole again. I saw my old friends, ate my old food, but kept many of the habits that have now become a part of me; I would not let anyone interfere with my “system,” as I called it, detrimental as it may be, it was nothing short of perfection to me. This hunger had become my friend, and soon took over again, replacing once more my real friends.
It was a tough battle, one not easily won, but inevitably won nonetheless… to some extent. I had learned a valuable lesson from my reading that rid me once of my hunger. It was wisdom that amalgamated all other wisdom. I had written about it before, so I need not repeat myself (see my article: Institutionalise). But now I wanted to see what I could do alone. I went against the grain, striving for something so close, yet only just too far out of reach, as nothing but my own psyche was stopping me from achieving this goal. Goal? What goal. Again it was darkness. I knew not what I wanted, only that I wanted to build up my body every day. To what end? I didn’t know. Yet I continued, searching for the key that would unlock my mind. Alone, I wanted to achieve the result. But how could I, I never achieved anything truly alone? And that is the enigma that I so desperately needed an answer for. How can I strive alone, when everyone and everything else goes against me. Do I run away? Do I conform until the opportunity arises? Do I derive my inspiration and validation from my reading, and is that enough? I know one thing about success, and that is that it requires hard work, discipline, patience, and the divine command of “Be,” and it is…
I am afraid that if I stop, I will lose all that that I worked to hard to attain. I am afraid that I will lose motivation and confidence in myself. I am afraid that my vanity will be the only thing drives me, but will some day be the only thing that stands in my way of achieving that which I want. In the end, is it worth the trouble and pain? Can I find the solution, or perhaps, is the solution just to give up?
I will leave with this:
“There was a certain original man who desired to catch his own shadow. He makes a step or two toward it, but it moves away from him. He quickens his pace; it does the same. At last he takes to running; but the quicker he goes, the quicker runs the shadow also, utterly refusing to give itself up, just as if it had been a treasure. But see! Our eccentric friend suddenly turns round, and walks away from it. And presently he looks behind him; now the shadow runs after him. Ladies fair, I have often observed… that Fortune treats us in a similar way. One man tries with all his might to seize the goddess, and only loses his time and his trouble. Another seems, to all appearance, to be running out of her sight; but, no: she herself takes a pleasure in pursing him.”
Recognition: Thank you Mike Tyson, for giving me permission to lose hope in myself, only to regain it in my humanity.
I just tried to write a post by the name of “Care,” but failed in my own standards. I seem to not be able to write how I want to, or used to. I sound so like the articles that I am constantly reading now online. My, so called, Art with words is gone.
I wouldn’t say “gone” as much I would like to say dormant, for it is always there, but buried under deeper sands. Still, I find it increasingly difficult to funnel out the nuances that I once could spike at ease, or excite my mind with a word that seems to have given the sentence a weird twist. “Weird,” seriously? I never say weird…
Read bro. Don’t let this mild entertainment with those fads get to you as it has done to many, filling them with empty wishes, and vain hopes. If you surround yourself with the fast, you will tend to speed up, and if you surround yourself with the leaders, you are either bound to pick up your game, or be soon swept out of the race, having being proved unworthy. Prove your worth, don’t linger among the page long pieces of “advice” that have little evidence to back them up. Pick yourself up man. Keep rising. Surround yourself always with the best of writers, the funniest of comedians, the most beautiful of characters. Watch them. Emulate them. Surpass them, because there is little point in doing what someone else has already done. The true purpose of reaching the heights that they have long after they have gone is for others worthy in heart and soul to stand on their shoulders, and see what remaining roads they have left untramped.
You are a thing, and your self is another. You want beauty, morals, and ideals, and she wants pleasure and distraction. Drive her, and she will respond. Shove her, and she will jostle back.
Do not limit her pleasures, wants and desires: she is to them entitled, as is a child to his toys and play. Rather persuade her and use gentle coercion, and you will find she is more understanding than you once thought. If she gives you something, thank her and give her a treat. Give her gifts and deal with her gently, so is the dealing of one with a child.
Scoff you may. “Where is the likes of this so called self?” Is it in my head, my chest, my ears my toes? Maybe it’s on display on my bedside shelf. “It is you!” I respond, “but not the you you understand.” It is not the you you can hold in your hand. Nor can you see it, smell it, or give it away. It is not yours to keep, it will leave you one day. It is your unspoken desires, thoughts, feelings of no regret, it is just as smart as you, don’t let it make you forget.
As such we go in life, from one relationship to the next. This one, however, we did not choose. We are given it, safekeeping it in the vaults of our hearts. Deal with what you are given well, give it respect, be gentle and harsh when need be. In your hand is one end of the rope, pull it as hard as you want, but do not underestimate how hard it can pull back…