An everyday anthem
I have this tendency to be hard on myself. If I feel I’m not being as productive as I think I should be, or as efficient or healthy, or supportive of others and I beat myself up about it. I feel the pressure to always be reaching for the next step on the ladder and if I’m not climbing fast enough I get frustrated. I guess I’m ambitious.
Sometimes I wear myself out on the weekly climb. I get up too early and stay up too late trying to force just a few more drops of productivity out of this old hide. "I need to produce more widgets, and of consistently higher quality if I’m ever going to get ahead,” I tell myself. “I have to be better, I want to be stronger, and I know I can be faster,” as I sit at my laptop staring at the blinking cursor in the dark and nothing seems to be happening.
This is the case more than I really care to admit.
The thing is, you can’t always make things happen out of nothing. We live in a finite universe and when we run out of energy, it’s all gone, for good. Now, we have the ability to reconstruct some of that energy within our bodies and minds via nutrition, mental breaks, and exercise, but those processes take time and we need to allow ourselves that time to recuperate and grow.
Part of the pioneer mantra is for men to be callused and hardened - to have a willpower like red granite and old pine roots - tough and unwavering. In the midwest we still respect people of this nature, men and women alike, because it’s a proven recipe for success. Self-discipline is part of the package deal with a person or it’s not. You can’t cultivate it in someone else, but you can within yourself and if you invest in that maxim, there will always be a need for you...
The problem arrises when the hustler hustles themselves right off the edge of a cliff. There needs to be checks and balances in any system, and the pioneer man, the Northwoods man, the woodsman, is well advised to find something to balance his go-get’em personality before he digs his own grave.
This winter has been hard on a lot of people, including my own family. Keeping three people and a dog warm and fed and happy is a massive new challenge to take on. As much time as I’ve spent in recent years trying to hoist the sails of my own ship (career), now I need to think (and act accordingly) rather sternly about how I’m going to do that for all of us at the same time. Whoa that’s a lot of pressure.
Then you start to compound that with a suffering economy and dwindling opportunities locally and things start to look sort of scary. There is not much to be had and that which is available is highly contested.
So what are we left with?
I guess there are a few options but I think the best one is to get out of bed every day. Yeah, it’s a simple as that. Get up, every day, put your favorite cap on, and get it done. It’s not glamorous, it’s not shiny or sleek or sexy. Nope, it’s just strait-shooting, hard nosed defiance. Get over it.
Sometimes we have to readdress what we’re looking for. We get distracted by inanimate objects we believe will bring us happiness, by comforts or crutches that we never really needed. We get caught on the surface of things so that it’s harder to dive down deep. Do you know how to break through this? All you need to do is remember who you are, remember what really makes you happy, and then go and get it, rely on yourself to go and get it. There are no scapegoats, no system errors, no politics holding you down - there is just you, and realizing your own potential will set you free.
This is still America. We are still the country with the can-do attitude and the build-it-and-they-will-come aptitude. We learn by trial and error, it only follows that we’ll make mistakes. How we respond to those mistakes - how we rebound and the speed at which we recover - is what’s important.
Our best bet, I think, is to keep pushing and love openly every single day. Be full steam ahead but be open to changes in your life. I suppose that’s intuition, being open and conscious to when opportunities for change come your way. I may have the tendency to be hard on myself, but I guess that gives me an idea of what I’m made of when the winds of change start blowing.
“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
- Benjamin Franklin
See you out there,
A woodsman in training.