The Road to Rueing

by Devin on April 14, 2011

in The Essentials

Have you ever had a day in which you asked yourself, “What’s the use?”

Sometimes it can feel like your life is a train wreck. Like you’ve already traveled so far down the road to ruin that there’s no point in trying to turn around.

I know I’ve had days like that. Heck, I’ve had them recently.

When I had days like that in the past, they would usually unfold like this:

  1. Hours of internal dialogue, review and judgment of the past few months or years, and self-criticism.
  2. A period of lucidity, during which I realize that my destiny is in my own hands. At this point I start furiously making plans to fix everything that is wrong with my life.
  3. Return of the internal critic. Lengthy internal discussion of why the plans I had just made would fail due to serious and obvious character flaws.
  4. A final meek surrender to the feelings of doom and helplessness. “I’m sure things will be better in the future,” I tell myself.

I would keep plodding on, head down and oblivious, down that well-trodden path. Then, a few months or a year later, I would have another “four letter day” like I described above. This one would be even worse; I’m now older, more time has gone by – why am I stuck in the same place that I was before? As Rita Mae Brown said:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Recently, though, I’ve started reacting to these days differently. I still go through a lot of the same feelings, but it’s the resolution that has started changing. I’m sick of looking backwards, realizing that I wasted yet another week, another month, another year. I no longer want regret to be the primary emotion I feel when I think about the past.

I’m not totally cured of self-defeatism – not by a long shot. But in the final reckoning, what matters to me is my progress. Final results are slippery beasts, ever-shifting and seemingly continually out of reach. Once you reach a goal, a new goal pops over the horizon.

And it seems to me that’s what goals are: the horizon. When you reach the horizon, a new journey opens up before you. It never ends, and that’s a beautiful thing.

At least, I think so.

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