Doing What It Takes
“My father picked me up from school one day, and we played hooky and went to the beach. It was too cold to go in the water, so we sat on a blanket and ate pizza. When I got home, my sneakers were full of sand, and I dumped it on my bedroom floor. I didn’t know the difference. I was six. My mother screamed at me for the mess, but my father wasn’t mad. He said that billions of years ago, the world shifting and the oceans moving brought that sand to that spot on the beach, and then I took it away. “Every day,” he said, “we change the world,” which is a nice thought until I think about how many days and lifetimes I would need to bring a shoe full of sand home until there is no beach, until it made a difference to anyone. Every day, we change the world, but to change the world in a way that means anything, that takes more time than most people have. It never happens all at once. It’s slow. It’s methodical. It’s exhausting. We don’t all have the stomach for it.” –Elliot Alderson
When I first heard this passage on the show Mr. Robot, I stopped the stream and re-watched it.
involves systematically presenting how people can change the way they live. Change the way they work. Change their world.
The response has been overwhelming in the channels where I’m sharing and interacting directly. When I wander out into other related communities, particularly on Reddit, I sometimes encounter discussion on what we’re doing in our little corner of the Internet. The criticisms I find are variations of the same theme:
It’s too long.
Yep. The video series is long (though I get more complaints about not going into enough detail). It’s complex to set up, particularly if you don’t know the underlying Notion platform and are learning both the software and the system. Though once in place, life with it is less complex, more focused, and better aligned.
But most of all, it is hard.
It’s hard to get the new methods started. It’s hard to stick with weekly and monthly reviews. It’s hard to do things that demand more from us. It’s hard to change to new approaches, away from the way we’ve always done things.
Yet these same people came to the site because they’re unhappy with some aspect of their lives. Their current approach is falling short in some way. It’s lacking to a sufficient degree that they’re not only searching for solutions online but also elaborating about it on Reddit.
None of them presented an alternate solution to direct others toward as a better option. This is not because there aren’t other good options, it’s because all the other comparable options are also long. And complex. And hard.
Long because it takes time to explain something new in sufficient detail that it can be fully comprehended and implemented. This requires more than a tweetstorm, it requires nuance to understand how and why it functions. We’re shaping a system that will change a psychology designed to protect itself from change. We’re re-wiring our self-perceived identities (discussed further in the previous essay
Complex because our lives encompass a massive range of activates and dynamic interactions. And further complicated because the vast scope of psychological tricks we use on ourselves require an equally vast range of guardrails and balancing properties
to keep us on track.
Hard because it just is. Changing your frameworks on the world is hard. Changing your behaviors and approaches to life is hard. Big change is hard.
Guilty as charged.
To change in a way that means anything takes more time than most people have. It never happens all at once. It’s slow. It’s methodical. It’s exhausting. We don’t all have the stomach for it.
But it’s doable. And worth it.