So far in New York, I haven’t found that any direct route takes me to my desired goal. Many are the paths that terminate in dead ends; many are those that, after a time, start resembling circles; many seem to lead nowhere and then, after I’ve begun trying something else, present themselves differently; a few–the good ones–make zigzags, heading, somehow or other, in the right direction.
At first, the number and kinds of obstacles seemed mind-numbing, paralyzing, too much. How was I to get on? After a while, though, I began to marvel at the complexity of life in relation to my deepest pursuits and projects. Thanks to my acknowledgment that our world, the only one we really inhabit, possesses an irreducible complexity, I began to become, by incident rather than by choice, a “philosopher of the everyday.” Thus:
- Was this goal ultimately worth pursuing? For its own sake? For the sake of something else?
- Had I cultivated the virtues indispensable for pursuing this goal?
- Was I willing to open up my imagination even further in order to determine whether other means, hitherto unseen or unconsidered, might also lead in the right direction?
- Was I courageous enough to know when to persist and when to retreat?
- Was I resilient enough to try something different when it came time? (When was that time?)
- Most important, had I learned the art of not taking myself too seriously–the art, that is, of self-ridicule?
Life is never easy, but too many of us make the mistake of assuming that it should be. The rest, unfortunately, think it’s far too difficult. But growing up entails seeing life for what it is: livable, humbling, surprising, and wondrous.