joy in the journey

This little story has been around a while, but still worth remembering: Two brothers decided to dig a deep hole behind their house. As they were working, a couple of older boys stopped by to watch.

"What are you doing?" asked one of the visitors.

"We plan to dig a hole all the way through the earth!" one of the brothers volunteered excitedly.

The older boys began to laugh, telling the younger ones that digging a hole all the way through the earth was impossible.

After a long silence, one of the diggers picked up a jar full of spiders, worms and a wide assortment of insects. He removed the lid and showed the wonderful contents to the scoffing visitors.

Then he said quietly and confidently, "Even if we don't dig all the way through the earth, look what we found along the way!"

Their goal was far too ambitious, but it did cause them to dig. And that is what a goal is for -- to cause us to move in the direction we have chosen; in other words, to set us to digging!

But not every goal will be fully achieved. Not every job will end successfully. Not every relationship will endure. Not every hope will come to pass. Not every love will last. Not every endeavor will be completed. Not every dream will be realized.

But when you fall short of your aim, you can say, "Yes, but look at what I found along the way! Look at the wonderful things which have come into my life because I tried to do something!"

It is in the digging that life is lived. And I believe it is joy in the journey, in the end, that truly matters.

Bent to the Illusion

The Müller-Lyer illusion, a famous optical illusion (involves) two sets of arrows. The arrows are exactly the same length. But in one case, the ends of the arrows outward, seem to signify expansion and boundless potential. In the other case, they point inward, making them seem self-contained and limited. The first case is analogous to how investors see the stock market when returns have been increasing; the second case is how they see it after a crash.

“There’s no way that you can control yourself not to have that illusion,” (Nobel prize winner) Daniel Kahneman told me. “You look at them, and one of the arrows is going to look longer than the other. But you can train yourself to recognize that this is a pattern that causes an illusion, and in that situation, I can’t trust my impressions; I’ve got to use a ruler.”

Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise

Immediate Living

Consider the difference between the person who has been toiling in the hot sun and is desperately thirsty and the wine connoisseur who wants to sample a new pinot noir from California. Both have a desire to drink something liquid, but the resemblance ends there. There desire of the first person is rooted in the raw structure of the body, which needs and craves water. No reflection or education is needed to have such a desire. In order to appreciate the difference between a pinot noir and a cabernet sauvignon, However, it may be necessary to have a cultivated taste, with an imaginative grasp of the vocabulary used to describe the subtle “notes” of the wines. The person who simply wants to get drunk every night as well as the person who prides himself on his refined and elegant taste in wine… are focused solely on the satisfaction of the desires the person happens to have and are thus in one sense “immediate.”

A person may know a great deal about ethical theory without having much in the way of ethical character. It is possible, then, for a person to be well-developed intellectually but existentially not developed at all, and therefore still immediate.

C. Steven Evans, Kierkegaard: An Introduction

Ready for a close-up?

This lovely furniture looks like cozy quarters.  But you won't findthe furniture taking up space in someone's living room. The trees in the background offer a hint that something's amiss. These items are tucked away in a Seattle park. They're made of solid cement. And while you can take a seat on the sofa, cozy wouldn't be the best word to describe the experience.

Today you will come across a situation that will look quite different--if you would only take a few small steps toward it. A closer look can change your whole perspective.. when you take the time to go deeper.

Stephen Goforth

The power of sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry can be a year-round tradition for some families. University of Missouri researchers followed more nearly 150 pairs of siblings for a year and found the conflict fell into two overall categories:

1. Conflicts about shared resources and responsibilities which focused on equality and fairness, like whose turn it was to empty the dishwasher or use the computer or ride in the front seat of the car. These siblings were more likely to become depressed.

2. Meanwhile, those who argued over privacy and personal space, such as borrowing clothes without asking or entering a room without permission, were more likely to be anxious and have low self-esteem. The most vulnerable for this twist were younger siblings.

The researchers say the way preteens and teens react to the conflict with siblings to the has to do with what they perceive is at stake. You'll find details about the study in the journal Child Development.

Stephen Goforth