On the Difficulties of Practice


In a message sent a few days back, my friend J. told me:

“Your writing is so polished, and the thoughts are so formed, that I wonder if there isn’t something else underneath it that you have not seen or even been aware of yet.”

Only J. is capable of backhanded compliments like this, praising my clarity on the one hand while pointing out the underlying opacity on the other. The comment took me by surprise. I’ve never thought of my writing as “polished.” I’ve also never entertained the possibility that there’s something about myself that I haven’t seen (at least in terms of the really big stuff). If there are things in my life that don’t work, they don’t stem so much from a dearth of knowledge as from an abundance of complacency.

As I said in an earlier blog post, clarity of articulation isn’t always synonymous with depth of acceptance (hence the divide between epistemology and ethics). As arrogant as it may seem, I’ve already distinguished the major facets of my shadow self: all those parts of me that I loathe, regret, fear and despise. If they wreak havoc on my life, it’s not because I haven’t seen them—

It’s just that I haven’t done much to address them (or at least I haven’t done enough).

So maybe it’s time for me to stop succumbing to the lethargy—time, finally, for me to stop parading self-awareness as a consolation prize for not doing what I know I should be doing.

Maybe this is what 2013 will be about.

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