Friday, November 20, 2009

Progress: the Unstoppable Human Drive

Little Wesley, a child at kindergarten, sits down on the mat to explore a puzzle he discovered days beforehand. As soon as he arrived he went straight for this puzzle. He’s intrigued by the puzzle because he doesn’t yet know how to master it. His curiosity drives his effort and interest. He tries very hard to master the puzzle for a solid ten minutes, but gives up in rather animated frustration as the teachers observe the positive curiosity slowly morph from ardent enthusiasm to shrinking defeat. But then he comes back to the same puzzle the next day, fresh for an entirely new battle.

Not all 4 and 5 year olds are like Wesley, but his example proves a consistent point of human nature. None of us like being held back—not in any area of our lives.

I often draw upon the learning of my first marriage and what happened for me when that failed. I might at times (and many times) sound like a broken record. The fact is, at the time I loathed going back to the very start of many things, for that was the most basic feature of the time. I felt like I was re-starting, having lost all that was dear to me.

But it’s a good case in point. Besides the grief involved in marital separation, I’d have no more liked repeating a grade in school, not much less being demoted at work. It’s positively crushing to the human spirit when these things happen.

Not one of us likes going back to scratch for anything. None of us appreciates having to learn the hard way. Even the recalcitrant cannot resist progress—they just prefer to go the direction of regression. No one likes to stand still in life.

One thing I’ve found that has helped me is a journal and some lists. These can help us see the progress we do make against the false starts and the hopeless repetition of life we all get into.

Keeping a journal or maintaining goal lists of achievements in important areas of life augments the fact of progress in our minds and hearts—the gardens of our soul. We do this when we recognise how important it is to remind ourselves frequently that we’re on the right track—that we’re making good gains, steady if not solid progress.

And this is important if we care for living anywhere near the zenith of our potential. Life is mostly about momentum, and any shift in momentum should be to the positive wherever possible. Journals and lists help to this end.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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