I've realized recently that I go through cycles of liking to do things the easy way or the hard way. I almost quit music in secondary school (I wasn't particularly talented), but I ended up majoring in it at university because it was the most challenging thing that I could be doing at the time and I enjoyed the thought of turning a weakness into a strength. I eventually tired of the struggle so when I left music I chose law because I did well on the law school admission test, so I figured I was well suited for it. At that point in my life, I didn't want to bother with my weaknesses, only capitalize on my strengths. Since then I've alternated between focusing on either my weakness or strengths, maybe every few years or so.
Most understand the appeal of the easy way, but doing things the hard way has its own value (and Thoreau?). The Swedes understand this. Although most Swedes have access to some sort of cottage or summer home, many of these homes intentionally do not have indoor plumbing, an attempt to be closer to nature. I spent some time there with a friend and she much preferred cooking up a porridge on the side of the road with a camp stove, or a soup on the deck of a ferry, to anything remotely more convenient. Even though my visit was on the tail end of summer in the chilly Arctic Circle, she insisted that part of the experience of any trip was to sleep outside whenever possible. We would go days without using a normal toilet, much less shower. I was sometimes tempted to put my foot down and insist that we take advantage of modern amenities and conveniences for a change, but I didn't. And even though I have been on much more comfortable and more exotic trips, this one has remained my favorite I think largely because it required struggle. It required me to be resourceful and more actively engaged in every moment of the trip, whereas waking up in crisp hotel sheets and stumbling down the hall to a buffet breakfast required no thought at all. The former meant living every minute and the latter invited passivity and complacency, it's own sort of (worse) struggle.
When I first started writing the blog, it was in an effort to understand why my life seemed to self-destruct every few years. I thought maybe finding the reason why might keep it from happening again, but I seem to like to struggle. There's something rewarding about doing things the hard way, at least for now. And as artist Chuck Close said:
Get yourself in trouble. If you get yourself in trouble, you don’t have the answers. And if you don’t have the answers, your solution will more likely be personal because no one else’s solutions will seem appropriate. You’ll have to come up with your own. It's always wrong before it's right.”