Talking to myself

“Phronetic” is a funny word. I first came across it in Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes. Another title for this blog could easily be “Talking to Myself.” That’s what I’m doing most of the time.

I write about ego. About doing the right work, the work that matters. Both to yourself and to others. I talk about how to think with clarity and precision. I discuss persistence and endurance and the will required to keep going in the face of difficulty. About how to deal with human problems like anger, jealousy, unhappiness and anxiety. I lay out ideas about doing more, doing better and being more and being better.

Why? Part of the reason that I’m so drawn to these ideas is not because I’ve mastered them. Not because I’m talking down to people and I think they should learn from me. It’s the opposite. I haven’t mastered these ideas. They’re a constant source of trouble and strife. It’s like I’m fighting in both sides of a revolution. I’m trying to overthrow the ruling powers and at the same time eliminate the revolutionaries. 

So I try to persuade myself. I use reason and emotion and stories and exhortations. Like most campaigns, there are good days and bad. Days where I make progress and days where I slip. Periods where I gain ground and periods where I lose it.

 But I think, on a macro level, I’m moving forward. Even though it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. Which is why I write every day. Why I’m talking to myself and thinking out loud. So you can see the pain and the struggle inherent in the process. So you can see that, contrary to what most would have you believe, it’s not easy. It takes longer than they tell you. It takes more energy. It takes more effort. It takes more honesty.

Don’t drink the elixir that everyone is pushing on you. Nothing happens overnight. There are no shortcuts. There’s only a daily struggle. Which sounds depressing. But it’s not. Because the more you fight, the better you get at fighting the destructive impulses that live inside your head and in the environment you inhabit. Which means that you begin to win. And you start to see progress where you thought progress was impossible.