Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Act or Idea

 Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have a lot of interests. For me it can actually be a problem how many interests I have. I’m interested in so many things that I often have problems sticking with anything. Thankfully I noticed this about myself and took some steps to focus on the things that are most important to me. The primary hurdle I had to overcome to get to my new mindset was to differentiate between “act” and “idea.”

I have a really good imagination and I like to use it. In a lot of ways, this helps me in life. In other ways it hurts me. One of the ways that it hurts me is that when I get an idea; any idea, I tend to blow it up into unreal proportions and get myself so excited about it I just have to act on it. While this isn’t necessarily harmful in itself, it can be when you get a new idea every week. My usual pattern would be to get an idea, work it up in my mind and get so excited that I’d go spend money to try and make it happen. Then a week later, maybe a month or two if I was lucky, I’d be so burnt out on the idea, I’d drop it and never look back. After some self-examination, I realized that while I often fell in love with the idea, I never fell in love with the act of bringing that idea to fruition.

There have been a few examples in my life where I have strayed from this pattern. When I was a pre-teen I often fantasized about becoming a rock star. I pictured shiny guitars, big amplifiers, tour buses, crowded arenas, and world tours. Eventually I picked up a guitar. Surprisingly, I liked practicing. I practiced nearly every day for hours and hours. While the fantasy was still strong in my head, I enjoyed learning new songs and eventually writing my own. Then I started a band and I liked that too. Then I went to college and started a real band, and we started to get paid to play shows and we started traveling and recording cds, and I really liked that. The reality of the situation was nothing close to what I had fantasized about. We toured the midwest instead of the world, we traveled in a van instead of a bus, and we played at small venues instead of packed arenas. None the less, I loved it. Guitar was one of a few things that has had staying power in my life, and it was because I loved the act of being in a band, more than my idea of what being in a band was supposed to be.   

These days fitness and Jiu Jitsu are my new passions. I still play guitar, and will eventually be doing it more than I am right now, but I’ve chosen to focus on one thing at the moment. I love working on my technique, pushing myself harder and harder, strengthening my mind and body, and focusing on a healthy diet. I’ve found that for me to focus on something as intensely as I should, I really can’t have a lot of other stuff vying for my time. I’m busy enough as it is, I can’t keep up with 7 hobbies. This is tough for me because as I’ve mentioned before, I get interested in a lot of stuff, but I’ve found I’m most content when I focus on something that I enjoy doing and really work hard at getting good. 

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try new ideas. You have too in order to find what it is you love. But once you find that, try to avoid the temptation or even the outside pressure, to get involved in a bunch of other stuff. I think you’ll be happier in the end.  

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from a blog I like called “The Art of Manliness.” If you want to read the whole thing (and I would suggest it), you can find it at here.

What is Sacrifice?
When we hear the word sacrifice, we often think of completely selfless acts in which someone does something for another entirely for the other person’s benefit. The image of a soldier sacrificing his life for his comrades frequently comes to mind.

But sacrifice isn’t purely altruistic. The best definition of sacrifice is this: “To forfeit something for something else considered to have a greater value.” (American Heritage Dictionary, emphasis mine). Sacrifice does not mean giving up something for nothing; it means giving up one thing for something else we believe is worth more.

This does not at all take away from the virtue of sacrificial acts. Instead of locating the merit of sacrifice in unselfishness, we can find it in a man’s chosen value system. The man who lays down his life for his family or for his comrades has chosen to place more value on their lives than on his own. What is more praiseworthy than that?

The Law of Sacrifice
So if that is the definition of sacrifice, what is the law of sacrifice? The law of sacrifice says that you cannot get something you want, without giving up something in return. In order to attain something you believe is of greater value, you must give up something you believe is of lesser value.