The Battles Within

A wild horse is a beautiful thing on its own, but isn’t very useful to a person. To create a symbiotic relationship with the horse, the owner must break the horse, training it to give up some of its wild instincts and replace them with conditioned responses.

I rode a horse a few weeks ago in Chile. She was generally well behaved, but had her quirks. Sometimes, riding along in the desert, there would be a tasty looking shrub. If we were walking slowly enough, she would stop and eat it. I’d have to yank on the reins to prevent her from doing it, but that didn’t stop her from trying again next time.

It feels like my brain is the same way. I train it over and over again, but it’s never completely broken. There are battles that I fight every single day, knowing that winning doesn’t mean eliminating those battles entirely, but just winning them more often than not.

One of those battles is the desire for pleasure. I can logically want to live a fairly ascetic life, can enjoy that life, but still there’s some draw to temptation. I want to do fun things. I want to buy things I don’t need. And after two of my good friends have met serious boyfriends/girlfrends on Tinder– I really want to install that app, even though I’m not dating until WifeQuest begins next year.

Another battle is the battle for rest. Maybe this is the same as the battle for pleasure, just in a specific form. When I’m trying to summon all of my brainpower to solve some technical problem, a part of me wants to just lie down and take a nap. Most weekends I enjoy working, but sometimes I think about how people take two days off every week to do nothing, and that seems like some impossible fantasy.

Maybe, too, there’s a battle against selfishness. I’m not sure I win this one as much as the other two I mentioned. I think about everything that my family and friends have done for me, especially my parents raising me, and it seems absurd that I would do anything for myself. And yet– when I have a spare few hundred bucks to buy a plane ticket, I always buy it for myself.

Part of being a productive human, one who walks towards his goals, is to fight these battles. Winning them ticks one’s life in a good direction, losing them sets one back a little bit. The important part is to realize that they’re battles that we’ll all fight for our whole lives, unless we surrender. Thinking about it like that makes it easier to fight. Yeah, it’s supposed to be hard. Yeah, I’m going to have to do this again tomorrow. That can be discouraging, unless you realize that fighting this battles is the mechanism by which we all progress. Then they seem like an opportunity.

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Photo is a mean looking Buddha in the Met in NYC

Photos should be getting better soon! Long time reader Max is coming out here with his pro photographer friend to teach me how to take better photos.

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