Working to Build Your Fire

I wonder if I’ve ever worked hard.

I’ve put considerable energy into certain things, for sure. My body has ached after a day bursting at the seams with deadlines. Once, I was on the clock for almost 27 straight hours with only 45 minutes of rest the entire time.

What fits the description?

Is there an answer? How can one measure the toughness of a task objectively?

I’ve gained a new perspective recently, which has raised the questions.

The conclusion I’ve come to? I didn’t know how much work it took to succeed at anything.

I thought I had a clue.

I chose to look over my entire life, sorting the whole of my 30 years into “requires a shift” and “serves me going forward.” Over the course of several days–or weeks, at the most, I figured–I would have peeled back the layers of the onion, discovered problems and made repairs. I’d then move on quickly to a life of greater contentment, or so I thought.

I underestimated what it would take to strip my mind to its foundation.

To really delve into the buried past, it takes a tremendous amount of persistence. From the very start, I encountered stubborn resistance from a bull-headed jackass: myself. In the beginning, I was unable and unwilling to face dive into the cave of my own past. Even scratching the surface took quite a bit of focus.

It took me a while to realize this is natural.

Changing infuriates a brain that reveres predictability and order. Even with my unquenchable thirst for knowledge and understanding, I initially refused to drink from the well containing the patterns of my own behavior.

My first looks were superficial, but I kept at it.

I poked and prodded, dug and discarded. I pushed on into the darkness, despite the weary cries for rest or retreat.

I found things out.

It’s the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve done. Stepping inside myself and looking at everything I’ve ever done allowed me to realize something:

I believed succeeding was merely the result of talent fused with intelligence.

I’d been able to get by with minimal effort in many areas because of the blessing between my ears. My photographic brain required fewer hours of studying to pass tests than most, how could life be any different?

I was misguided.

I was certain I was doing enough…and I failed.

Why?

I have all the ability in the world and can be great at anything…but I drifted off course.

Why?

It is about work ethic?

No, I’m willing to push myself to the limit.

What is worth busting my ass for?

Finally, I’d asked the right question. I discovered I lacked true motivation. There was “one thing” for me to do and I had yet to locate it. (To be honest, I’m still figuring out what “it” is.)

Awaiting fuel for my fire, I stalled. I’d searched this way and that, finding only a few twigs and small branches for three decades. I had picked up very little to keep the flame burning, which meant I had to seek out more and more all the time.

What would make it blossom and last? Where could I find logs of bright-burning wood?

Every day, I pick and blast deeper, looking for the entire purpose to dedicate my life’s effort to.

I’m growing into it…

…but it’s working.

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