We rarely talk about the struggle. And when we do, we do so selectively. We prefer to glance over it on the way to triumphant victory or crushing failure. Or perhaps we view it through the rose-tinted glasses of hindsight and it becomes our training and process montage set to a motivating musical soundtrack, just like in the movies. Yet it is within the struggle that seeds of the outcome germinate and bloom. What ultimately happens depends entirely on this creative tension, how it unfolds, who is there with us, and who we become along the way.
It seems that most of us would prefer to simply vault over difficult times and proceed directly to the outcome. We’d rather blink quickly and fast forward to the part where we taste success, or things start becoming easier. Living in an age of instant gratification does not help as we instead stare down the long road of struggle ahead, knowing the outcome is still undetermined. Knowing that even if we work as hard as we possibly can, we still might fail. Knowing there are no guarantees. And knowing that, regardless, we must walk this road.
The struggle itself and how we face it changes us. It impacts who we are when we either succeed or fail and, then, what we do with those outcomes. Like so many things, how you travel is how you will be. How you practice is how you will ultimately perform. It is how we struggle, not simply that we struggle, that is seminal to the outcome and beyond. Is it possible to struggle and fail and still be better for it? Yes. Is this the way we prefer to learn and grow? No. Yet lessons of struggle and failure are still some of the most salient and our transformation through the process the most lasting. How can we be intentional about how we struggle? How can we be who we want to be now, in the difficult, and not just at the pinnacle of success? If we can’t figure that out, will we actually be able to be who we want to be when we do achieve victory?
Movies and stories continually celebrate those who persevered through the struggle and into success. Those who did not let failure or difficulty defeat them. Those who simply would not quit no matter what happened. And they are indeed inspiring. So how do we translate that inspiration into motivation as we face our own struggles? In the midst of the storm, while dreaming of being dry, warm, and sheltered, how do we find the courage and awareness to be fully present and embrace that this is where we are now? From where or whom do we find the fire inside to keep going? How do we find the motivation and discipline to push ourselves ever onward? For it is discipline that takes over when motivation runs dry. What keeps us from giving up? In those moments when exhaustion and despair tempt us to just let everything drop, what sets us back on our feet and pushes us forward instead? Who are we becoming through it? Who is there with us? Who or what accompanies us through it all?
Struggle is calling. An invitation not a threat. Breathe it in and be.
haiku by Michael Fryer