repetition is tedious
+ weekly recs
Cecily Brown, Untitled, 1996
The thing that no one ever tells you about your calling is that it’s boring. Oh, everything is interesting if you’re interested… shut up. Yes, it will be exhilarating and fun and fluid and and natural and meaningful. It will also be tedious. It will hurt. You will encounter obstacle after obstacle until you feel like you’re in a video game with algorithmically generated inconveniences popping up left and right. You will be exasperated. You will look around and try ways to distract yourself. You will wonder why it does not feel more magical, even though it does feel magical.
I know this because I am doing what I love—I write every day—and it’s hard. And I am surrounded by friends who’ve pretty much all designed their own jobs and gotten people to give them money to do what exactly what they want to do, and I can promise you that they are not exempt from the tedium and difficulty of being a person who is doing hard things in the world. Reality is not frictionless. You will still be chopping wood, carrying water every day. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to work hard until you die.
Life is labor. And there are different types of labor—some are exploitative and meaningless, some are good and nourishing—but the truth remains that to fully take up space in your own life you have to do difficult things for a long time.
Chop wood, carry water. This is the entirety of my spiritual practice. When you avoid difficulty, you avoid your own gifts.
I believe that this is the heart of adulthood. It’s not about feeling like a big boy. It’s about knowing you’re entirely unequipped and steadying yourself anyway. It’s about the day you stop avoiding the truth of your life. When you look at yourself in the mirror, not particularly proud of what you see, and say anyway: here I am and this is what I have to work with. I am an amalgamation of good traits, bad traits, learned skills, faulty narratives, primal anxiety, regrets, mistakes, hopes for the future, relationships that endure and relationships that ended.
I feel like an adult when I open the Google doc, I close the Google doc, I type 200 words, 500 words, I think: I’m so sick of my own mind. I feel like an adult when I accept that I love you even though you’re the most annoying person in the world. I feel like an adult when I realize I get too caught up in other people living up to their potential and I need to spend more time figuring out if I’m living up to mine.