July 29, 2017

The Retest

Most of what you know about yourself is wrong. It is worth taking a few hours to find out how wrong you are.

The ideas you have about your strengths and weaknesses are based on thinner evidence than you could ever imagine. A quality you say you have held all your life, something about yourself you’ve told people a hundred times, might be an opinion formed from a small number of episodes that occurred in your childhood. Maybe there were five stories that seemed to confirm this idea, or maybe just one or two. They happened a long time ago. You can’t remember them accurately. You’ve changed in the years since. They’re hardly enough to hang a self-image on.

July 19, 2017

Eventually We Will Get Something Done

Suspense had a moment in social media yesterday. One of the biggest catch phrases of the day was “Eventually we will get something done.” This happened after a news organization attributed this statement to a prominent U.S. political figure. I don’t know if it was an accurate verbatim quote or just a summary of a position, and it’s fair to guess that most people repeating the line hadn’t checked either, but it scarcely matters. It’s a rip-roaring statement if you take the liberty of reading it at face value — “eventually” implies that so far and on most days, we don’t have a prayer of accomplishing anything, while “we” implies the hope that someone else will step forward to do the heavy lifting.

Nothing will change, in this view, until future good luck and better circumstances finally allow action. Coming from a man who sees himself as a leader, this kind of statement is practically an abdication, and that’s where the humor in the statement lies. Imagine yourself saying something similar about your own life, though, and the humor vanishes. The feeling of waiting and waiting, while not doing anything, is all too true to life.