Your work is never over

As the train was whipping through the Devon countryside, I flipped to the beginning of my journal. I came across a list. I had entitled it, “Dangerous habits, thought patterns and tendencies.”

Reading through it reminded me of Marcus’s advice: “It’s silly to try to escape other people’s faults. They are inescapable. Just try to escape your own.”

These are my faults.

These are things I do and think and engage in that detract from whatever it is I should be doing.

I share them for three reasons.

Firstly, so I can more closely inspect them. So I can pick them up, feel them, turn them in my hand, weigh them. Secondly, so that you may see and begin to mitigate against them in your own life. Thirdly so that when arrogance and entitlement overcomes me, I can be reminded of how far there is still to go.

Dangerous habits, thought patterns and tendencies:

– Eating crap (sugar, processed foods etc.)

– Consuming crap (media, TV, ads, information etc.)

– Being reactive before being proactive. Starting the day with emails and social media before writing or creating.

– Avoiding exercise because “I have things to do.”

– Always looking for something new and not working with what I have.

– Complaining, bitching, moaning about my current situation.

– Insulting and judging others too readily, usually in my mind, rather than to their face.

– Mistaking my lack of confidence for humility.

– Not having skin in the game, or taking risks for what I believe in.

– Not speaking against and fighting what I think is wrong.

– Offering my opinion and acting with little forethought.

Giving unheeded and arbitrary advice.

– Dismissing others as boring or not worth my time.

– Forgetting the impact of alive vs dead time.

– Not being present in what I am doing. Allowing my mind to drift to other matters when I am with people I care about.

– Allowing anger, jealousy and pride to affect me.

– Avoiding what I know I must eventually do.

– Yielding to the Resistance.

– Not de-narrating and becoming overwhelmed by noise.

– Placing my needs before those of the ones I care about.

Being bored. Acting as if life has nothing to offer me and there is nothing I can learn.

– Exaggerating my worth and abilities.

– Lying out of cowardice.

– Thinking anything that promotes self-indulgence.

– Feeling entitled to this or that.

– Fighting, rather than accepting what happens.

Not smiling enough.

Not laughing enough.

– Not being an honest and compassionate friend.

– Avoiding decisions because I am scared of the consequences.

– Refusing to look and examine what is causing me pain and suffering.

– Choosing comfort, certainty and ease over their opposites.

– Not periodically detaching myself from my environment.

– Making the same mistakes many times.

– Refusing to learn from others who are far wiser and far more accomplished.

Waiting for pain and suffering before enacting change.

– Favouring acts of commission before acts of omission. Adding before subtracting.

I do all of these things. Many of them are stubborn, etched deep into my character. To try and correct them represents a lifetime’s work. Whatever the future may hold—success or wealth or misfortune or failure—my work will never be over. My character will always require perfecting.

It’s a war against myself. I must fight my faults until my final day.

Only then can I look back. Only then can I decide whether my life was filled with more joy and goodness or with negativity and destructiveness.