Age brings both wisdom and disappointment, doesn’t it? Especially to us over-thinkers.
How long does it take to figure out that life isn’t working the way we hoped it would? Maybe the little things are working out, but the big items are proving to be elusive. You know: those life goals and aspirations.
Or maybe the big things are coming along OK – career, family, whatever – but the nagging little things like health issues are threatening to derail the whole train.
Or perhaps we’ve ended up pretty much where we expected at this point in our lives… but it turns out it’s not where we want to be.
I don’t know how long it might have taken for wisdom/disappointment/realization to dawn on you, but it’s taken years for me. Decades, actually, to understand what I need to work on and, more importatly, how to go about it.
Crossing the canyon (or not)
That’s us, standing at Point A, looking at Point B so many times…
Point B can be many things that are different for each person: weight loss, a meaningful job, better mental health, a satisfying relationship. But building that bridge is difficult; easy in the beginning, harder the farther you go.
Our bridges usually end up like this:
So we stick with Point A, or over time we change the location of Point B.
The most aggravating part of it all is that it wasn’t supposed to be this hard. Right? Things turned out to be WAY harder than any of us were led to believe growing up. So many rules we learned just don’t work as promised.
And yet we continue to believe. And make plans for new, soon-to-be-partially-completed bridges.
Like I used to do.
Maybe the world doesn’t work the way we were taught
Maybe the rules we are playing by aren’t the real rules.
Maybe there aren’t really “5 simple steps to weight loss/happiness/career advancement/whiter teeth.”
I’m against any conventional wisdom that says it’s easy, that we just have to know one simple truth or one secret method to change our lives. Frankly, that one-size-fits-all advice is a lie. Change can be very hard… but it’s not impossible.
The sooner we start working on the hard stuff rather than jumping from lie to lie, the sooner we reach our goals.
There is a way across the canyon
I figured out after years of disappointment with supposed shortcuts that there’s usually only one way to get across the canyon:
Yeah. I’ve been down in the bottom of the canyon, scrambling over boulders and hacking my way through the brush, cutting a trail.
But I remember the false promises (“5 easy steps”) and I’ll never repeat that kind of stuff to you.
The false way to cross
Here’s how most people who give advice on the Internet operate. They struggle along the hard path of learning and self-discovery, sometimes for years:
So far so good. But after finally finding a solution that works for them, they decide to cash in by appealing to the universal human weakness for fast results and pain avoidance. How? By cherry-picking a few hard-earned lessons, giving them a marketing twist and overpromising fast and easy results.
And they add the kicker:
We can’t help ourselves. We believe that we can take the shortcut and only do the easy parts while avoiding all the messy, painful, life-changing lessons. After all, someone wouldn’t actually lie about it, would they? But it ends up being like the monkey bars 1(←You should always click these.)
The OverExamined Life way to cross
I’ve tried to cross a lot of gaps that way. I’ve believed all too often that I could just follow a few simple steps. But after a while, my grip weakened and I dropped off. I finally got tired of being lied to. I know you are, too.
Well, I have figured out a few things that will help you, but I don’t have a faulty memory about the path I took. I remember every wobbly rock, thorny bush, and poisonous snake.
There are no fixed bridges here. But I do provide marked trails and even a donkey, just like at the Grand Canyon.
Why I’m starting this website
I love analyzing complicated issues and figuring out how to resolve them. I’ve taught myself how to re-plumb my house, manage my depression, master binge eating and stay in shape. It’s what I’m compelled to do, and what I love to do…
… but not as much as I love teaching and helping others understand complex situations in order to take action. That’s what this website is all about.
It’s about life, and it’s for you. So let’s get started. I’ve got a lot to share.
P.S. If you leave a comment (below), I swear I’ll read it. P.P.S. Please share if you know someone who might benefit from this article. Thanks!
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