Only what is easy

Imagine a child who learns to avoid anything that is physically or mentally challenging. In their teens, they take the path of least resistance, not exhorting themselves to anything more than the minimal effort required. In their twenties, the pattern is reinforced; they seek an easy job and settle into a physically sedentary lifestyle. In their thirties, the pattern is cemented. The person is muddling through and their mind and body is starting a slow descent. In their forties, the pattern is fixed.

Imagining this person’s trajectory—the seeking of comfort and the descent into disrepair—illustrates two complimentary truths. First: doing only what is easy makes everything hard, eventually. And conversely: doing only what is hard makes everything easier, eventually. Consider physical training. A person who, from a young age, learns to push their limits and becomes comfortable with heightened states of physical exertion will, as an adult, find physical challenges easier. Objectively, they will have etched pathways into their physiology; the various systems of their body will have learnt how to deal with high levels of stress. Subjectively, they will have become comfortable with feelings of discomfort. A rising heart rate, increases in temperature, and demands for oxygen will not be met with alarm.

I would like things to be easy, like I suspect we all would. Which is why, when it comes to my own physical training, and when it comes time to choose my work and the projects I take on, I will be biased towards the hard and the difficult.