Life is much about choosing your focus, changing your focus. What is real may be the thing or an image of a thing. Even an image of a thing is enough to chase. See a cat chasing shadow of fly on the wall. Frog trying to eat fly on the iphone, seems more frustratingly out of reach. For mental exercise and challenge, needs can be as much met with simulacrum as the real.
Is a to-do list complete without the level of do-dadding-diddle, for what? and that for what benefit? And why is that good and useful?
As monk Thomas Merton considered The Way of Chuang Tzu, he at one point concluded about the pitfalls of making an effort to improve, “The more “the good” is objectively analyzed, the more it is treated as something to be attained by special virtuous techniques, the less real it becomes. As it becomes less real it recede further into the distance of abstraction, futurity, unattainability […] a devotion to the systemic usefulness of practicing means that lead no where. This is, in fact, nothing but organized despair.”
Improvement: doing it wrong.
It’s easy to overcomplicate and mistake good route for the goal. Best practice might be to print one manuscript on blue paper and manuscript B on pink so I can find them in a sea of white papers. But it’s not necessary. The system isn’t the thing. The doing is the thing. Do it efficient, or do it chaotically, throw in emotional weight or do it and not care about outcomes. The action is the thing.
One can figure out rules and patterns that should optimize. It is easy to forget why and that they are not the ends in themselves. For what, for what, leads me towards less pain for others and for self, an eased path in the long and short term.
What are good practices? If we were confined to best practice we’d spend most of our time deadlocked. Doing and not straining is a good practice. Use your muscles for something other than clenching; to keep them and heart and ends of the blood system pumping properly. Stay hydrated. Eat nutritionally varied and nutritionally dense food. Do things that improve the world around you meaningfully. Cultivate peace and beauty without hiding from or denying ugly and neutral. Exercise your compassion and your critical thinking. Sleep enough. Work enough to sleep well. Spend time in communication with like-minded and different-minded. Happiness techniques. Balance the spheres of your life.
There are times when one sphere rightly rules and displaces other things, just as there are seasons when fruit comes in season and the grains are set aside. Sometimes are not for full sleep or proper diet or listening.
It’s good to prop open the mind so new possibilities can come but not so uncritically that any fool thing is given equal weight as the sound and tested things.
It’s impossible to be in all the right place & all the right times. There’s now. There’s the now chipping and slipping away. It would be easy to pursue the disappearing moon. Or let it go and wait to see what is now.
You’re never going to run out of motivation. You’re never going to stop driving yourself and find you become a null. The body rests and like inhale follows exhale, something else to chase rises.
If you treat yourself like driftwood and decide that whatever happens is to the learning and to the good, you can have a state of rubberstamping good. This can take more energy than calling a downside and moving on.
If the mandala of the world is that all things are to the good, all bad contains good outcome, that’s going to take a lot of legwork mentally to justify. Work to see the benefit and overriding logic in the random which gives a sense of large picture purpose and path but there’s a tradeoff in the delusion and the crunch comes when you try to make sense of something out of reach.
You may feel you personally failed, spiral into self-blame but all the patterns were fanciful structures as substantial as cotton candy.