Language is a slippery thing.
I've noticed that the works of eastern philosophers, or even my own attempts to adapt their strategies in my life have a way of ticking people the fuck off.
At times, even as I was struggling to understand and practice these concepts, they ticked me off!
Just a few minutes ago I had a glorious, ecstatic, annoying, nauseating epiphany as to why this might be.
I think that the subtle nuances of the English language often conflate the ideas of simplicity and difficulty. That is, that implying something has few steps, also implies that those steps are easy, quick, trivial, or not challenging.
That's just not always the case.
Here's my relevant example:
Late last week I faced some challenges at work and had a conversation with a coworker that left a bad taste in my mouth. I left the office feeling like I didn't have the skills I need, and that I wasn't bringing my A Game in how I was going about getting them.
The whole weekend every time I thought about it, it made my heart heavy, and my stomach sink. I spent a good deal of time obsessed with career choices I had made 5 and 10 years ago, and regretting them. Then to add to that lovely salad of regret and misery, I topped it off with a dressing of fears about losing my job, not being able to hold my own next to younger, cheaper folks, and doubt that I would or even could ever get over this technical backlog.
I ate that fucking salad all weekend. Right up until I got into work today.
Fun, right? Not really.
So here's the thing about that whole salad-making-and-eating experience.
It was COMPLEX. It involved past regrets, dozens of memories, all sorts of imagined fears, and time to mix them together and force feed them to myself.
Yet at the same time it was EASY. All I had to do was trip on myself, fall down a rabbit hole of unhealthy thinking, and let the process just march along unchecked. It wasn't difficult.
Today when I got into the office, I tried something different. I sat down and spent time analyzing some code I need to understand. Some of it clicked for me right away, but the rest involved me painstakingly looking stuff up, writing things down, and working out how the pieces click together.
I feel so much better now. The process of teaching myself this code was SIMPLE, yet also VERY HARD. It went like this, kind of:
- read the code
- write it down as simple pseudocode when I understood it
- when I come to something I don't understand, stop, look it up in the documentation, ask a coworker, or try to reason it out for myself.
- STAY CALM
- Keep going
When I look back at this process, it's not rocket science. It's simple. The thing is something being simple doesn't mean doing it doesn't come without opportunity cost, dedication, a paradigm shift, and most importantly EFFORT OVER TIME.
That's an atypical way of looking at challenging things, and your relationship to them. I can see why it really pisses people off.