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Here’s another quote from Epictetus. I like it because it explains pretty well how I see life. That can be summed up as, “things – are”.
“When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it. It is not the things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance. Things and people are not what we wish them to be nor are they what they seem to be. They are what they are.”
That doesn’t mean that you can’t change your circumstances. If water is falling on your head you can raise an umbrella. If your foot is falling asleep you can change your sitting position. If you don’t like the show on TV change the channel. What it does mean is that you recognize those things that you can’t change. You recognize those things that actually are. You understand that the sky is blue and just because you want it to be gold doesn’t mean it is, or can be.
People have been told for so long that they can do whatever they dream that some actually believe that. But you can’t because, in the sagacious words of Murray Goldberg, “Here’s the thing about your dream – it’s stupid!”
Take Rudy. That football playing hero of a kid. You know…the one who wasted half a decade just to play in one game gaining what has been called his “27 seconds of fame”. He didn’t have the skill or talent to really play the game and was only allowed to play at the very end of a game that Notre Dame was easily going to win since they were so far ahead. To his team there was no risk in letting him play. To Rudy there was really only perceived glory. His dream – though his – was stupid.
What might he have accomplished if he found his actual talent and focused five years of his life on that instead? What you do with your time is up to you of course but fact is you can’t be good at everything, you can’t know everything, you can’t really do “whatever you set your mind to”.
Just because you want to do something doesn’t mean you should.
Sure that seems pretty simple enough but so many people spend so much time and effort doing things they want to do that don’t help them at all. Then they lament that they can’t get ahead, can’t get better, no matter how hard they try.
A platypus can be a great swimmer, but not a great long distance runner. To try, to put the kind of effort into running that is required to be great at it would be pointless. It defies the reality of the situation, the things that simply – are. The webbed feet, the short legs, the cumbersome tail, the 3 foot long body that sits only a few inches off the ground, the need to be near the pond. No…no long distance for me! That dream would be stupid.
But if I find what I can do. If I focus myself on what I am good at then the potential exists for me to be actually great at it. Why waste my time on something that can never be? I feel that way quite often about life. Perhaps that is why I see socialism as so stupid. It simply can’t be. Perhaps that is why I point out the tragedy of transgender. They want something that simply can’t be and believe something that isn’t.
Doing that – believing something that isn’t – is cognitive dissonance. A man who has to have his penis cut off, and breasts added, an Adam’s apple shaved down, take estrogen, and more knows – he knows – he’s not a woman. Never will be a woman. I say – don’t try to be.
Be the person you are.
As I said above – that doesn’t mean you can’t improve or alter your circumstances. I’m not saying don’t learn, don’t pursue excellence. Heaven forbid! Of course I think we should try to be our best selves every day and to add to our knowledge and ability. I’m only advocating for a bit of realism in our unreal world. Decades of dreaming have taken our feet from the ground and we are paying a dear price for the illusion.