Thursday, August 19, 2010

Emotional traps

About a month or so ago I made a decision. Long term considerations drove that decision, and although it appeared sudden and emotional to people whom I haven't shared my thoughts with, it had been on my mind for a long time. Since then, I often fell back on a state of mental weakness and strong emotions. I had to calmly and consciously remind myself all the reasons that led to my decision to pull myself out of a well of fear and loss. It was like hiking down the hill in the Lake District -- pangs of fear ran through me, but turning back was not an option.

I am realizing every day with increasing urgency that NOT THINKING is our default state of being, and it takes a lot of energy and strength to rise above emotional traps. (And meanwhile, reading the Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is helping me to conceptualize my experience.) It is because of our mental weakness that the value we give to rejection and confirmation is independent of the properties of the person, group or entity that rejects or confirms us. That is why we can't foresake the small rewards that go with confirmation of the mediocre today in order to seek bigger and better things for tomorrow.

And those bigger and better things may never come. They usually do not come. We envy those writers and artists that make it big, but we don't see the misery of those who have never made it. If we throughly thought about the odds of becoming successful in a creative or intellectual field, we would probably have never attempted them. But the paradox is that the only way to become successful is to hang on to an irrational hope that we may some day become successful. So the strength that allows us to run away from the emotional traps that push us into mediocrity flows from yet another emotional trap -- hope and over-optimism. Being possessed by a (usually baseless) idea that something out of the ordinary may just be possible.

I have yet to decide which one is better.

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