Sometimes I get stuck in a trap. I think to myself: “Ah, once I achieve this next thing, then all will be well!” This is of course ridiculous.
Imagine pushing a boulder up a steep hill. When starting out on the journey, you can see some of the long, arduous path in front of you. You expect the other side of the hill should be much easier though you aren’t quite sure exactly what will happen between here and there. But you begin to push the boulder up the hill having a general expectation for the future.
Up and up you go, leaning into the boulder, sometimes changing positions to give muscle groups a break. Assuming no major unexpected events (which are entirely possible), at some point you get to the peak and think “It’s all downhill from here!” This too is folly – predicting a future that may never arrive. And then you can push once more, just like you did every step of the way to reach this point.
But the next thing that happens probably isn’t that you win the game of life and have everything you’ve ever wanted and feel completely fulfilled.
It may be that your journey is on a new course, that things are easier, or that you finally see something that your previous perspective blinded you to. Things could also be more difficult, or the next push may send the boulder on an unexpected turn. You may also get to that peak and decide you’d rather not push boulders anymore, and leave the boulder at the peak to pursue basket-weaving.
What’s certain is at the moment on top of the hill, ready to push the boulder down the other side, was only made possible because you already put in so much effort. In fact, the next push is only possible because you decided to begin in the first place and then kept showing up to push the boulder. The hill’s peak may seem like a significant milestone, and you may appreciate it as one, but it is no different than all the previous pushes except that you’re stopping to appreciate it.
No matter what happens, you reap at least some benefits of all the pushing (exercise, problem-solving, determination) even if you walk away from boulders altogether for the rest of your life. Even if you quit the boulder-pushing before you’re done, you at least know that boulder-pushing isn’t for you.
Most of the time, to achieve anything that is meaningful to us, it is a long, slow climb and we wind up at the end of the achievement (should we accomplish it) much the same as we were at its outset – perhaps even missing the scenery.