There Is No “Once and For All”

We would very much like to get things settled, learn to be happy, get physically fit, get our careers established and/or create a happy family. We would like to accomplish these things once and for all and then just be able to enjoy our lives without having to work so hard at it all the time. But every time we get one part of our lives going right, the others get out of hand and then the first one falls apart again. It feels much like spinning plates on the ends of sticks. You keep having to run back and forth and attend to the one that is wobbling.

That is because there is no such thing as “once and for all.” I’m not sure why we think there is. Nothing in nature is static. The most natural progression for anything is to become disorganized, fall into decay and disappear. What changes that picture is living organisms. Life has the force to organize, generate, and create. But it takes resources and it takes energy. Continuous resources and energy. For some reason we believe we should not have to put energy into our lives. We have accepted the story that the ideal is to “relax.” There is nothing generative about relaxing. Of course we need rest to restore ourselves but that is because we have expended energy and we are going to expend more energy.

There is tremendous joy in building, in mastering, in maintaining. The true expression of our natures is counterbalancing the entropy of the material world. It is the incremental, continual, and thoughtful efforts we make that give our lives meaning, value, and pleasure. Sometimes we forget this reality. Just like every other aspect of our lives, our own inner experience, our self, can be known more deeply, evaluated more accurately, and tweeked and teased apart until it is better. It is better to be with ourselves; we can have a better relationship with ourselves.

This blog is about the benefits of the long slow approach to developing our minds in a relationship with a person who knows how to do that and who cares about us. This reality is just as true of anything in our lives.  When we try to make a massive effort to conquer some aspect of our lives, we cannot keep it up. We think we will fix that area of our lives once and for all and then it will be easier. But instead, we make a massive assault on the problem, burn ourselves out, and avoid it for some time. We are under the mistaken assumption that what would be good would be if we would not have to work at things.

The business of our lives is where the pleasure comes from. Positively impacting the world. Building, rehabbing, maintaining. There used to be a song that said, “Let’s take a lifetime to know each other well.” But really, what happens over our lifetimes is that we come to know ourselves well. And, with some effort, we evolve as people becoming wiser, happier, and more constructive as we go.

About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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